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8 Influential Persons in Health, Science & Innovation
Dr. William Hinton
Dr. William Hinton graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1912. He became a world-renowned expert in the diagnosis and care of syphilis. In 1927, he developed a test to check for syphilis, known as the Hinton test. The test was then endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service. Appointed an Instructor of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene at Harvard Medical School in 1918, William Hinton became the first African-American Professor at Harvard University in 1949.
Dr. Lena Edwards
Dr. Lena Edwards was one of the first African American women to be board-certified as an obstetrician-gynecologist as well as to gain admission to the International College of Surgeons. Throughout her career she served the poor, lobbying for better health care for anyone who needed it, regardless of what they could afford.
Dr. Louis Sullivan
Dr. Louis Sullivan was the only black student in his class at Boston University School of Medicine. In 1975, he became the founding dean of Morehouse School of Medicine. Later, Sullivan was tapped to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he directed the creation of the Office of Minority Programs in the National Institutes of Health’s Office of the Director.
Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice
Morehouse School of Medicine
Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice is an American obstetrician, gynecologist, and President and CEO at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Montgomery Rice is from Georgia and completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1987, she earned a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Montgomery Rice conducted research at Harvard on using purified hormones to induce ovulation in mice. Also, she completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University and conducted a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Hutzel Women’s Hospital.
Dr. Eliza Ann Grier
Dr. Eliza Ann Grier, born enslaved in North Carolina, earned her M.D., and in 1898 she became the first Black woman to practice medicine in Georgia. It took her 8-years to finish her bachelor’s degree in education from Fisk University in 1891 because she took every other year off to pick cotton and perform other work to earn her tuition to continue her studies.
Dr. James McCune Smith
Dr. James McCune Smith was the first African American MD to practice medicine in the United States. He devoted his life to healing the sick and freeing his fellow African Americans from the bondage and atrocities of slavery and is most widely known for writing the introduction to Frederick Douglass’s “My Bondage My Freedom”
Dr. Patricia Bath
Dr. Patricia Bath invented laserphaco, a new device and technique to remove cataracts. It performed all steps of cataract removal: making the incision, destroying the lens and vacuuming out the fractured pieces. Bath is recognized as the first Black woman physician to receive a medical patent.
Dr. David Satcher
Dr. David Satcher became the first African American Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A physician-scientist and public health administrator, Dr. Satcher was a Four Star Admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He was the 16th Surgeon General of the United States and former Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. He was the second person in history to hold both posts simultaneously.