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Women in Medicine

March 30, 2021

For centuries, women have been making groundbreaking contributions to the field of medicine. Unfortunately for much of history, female scientists have been overlooked or had the credit for their contributions stolen. Since March is National Women’s History Month, we here at Dr. Autoimmune wanted to take a moment to highlight some of these scientists. From creating life-saving treatments to discovering new elements, here are some extraordinary women who made waves in medicine:

Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

  • First woman to win a Nobel Prize
  • First and only woman to win a Nobel Prize twice
  • Only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two different disciplines (chemistry and physics)
  • First woman to become a professor at the University of Paris (1906)
  • Discovered radioactivity- she even coined the term!
  • Discovered the two elements of polonium (named after Poland, her native country) and radium
  • Founded the still-major medical research centers, the Curie Institute in Paris and the Curie Institute in Warsaw
  • Pioneered research in using radioactive isotopes to minimize tumours, a.k.a chemotherapy
  • Invented mobile X-ray machines for field medicine during World War I

Alice Ball (1892 – 1916)

  • First woman and first African-American to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a master’s
  • Developed the “Ball Method”, which was groundbreaking in the treatment of leprosy

Gerty Cori (1896 – 1957)

  • First woman to receive a Nobel Prize in medicine
  • Discovered how our bodies store and use glycogen for energy
  • Identified and named the “Cori Cycle” after the process of glycogen being broken down into lactic acid and converted to usable energy
  • Also identified the catalyst in this process as the “Cori ester”
  • Discovered the root cause of glycogen storage disease as being an enzyme defect

Helen Taussig (1898 – 1986)

  • Founded the field of pediatric cardiology
  • Discovered the cause of “blue baby syndrome” and developed a procedure that saved countless childrens’ lives
  • First woman and first pediatrician to be elected head of the American Heart Association
  • Was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964

Gertrude B. Elion (1918 – 1999)

  • Invented first immunosuppressive drug, which was used to reduce rejection rates among organ transplants
  • Invented first treatment for leukemia
  • Oversaw the development of AZT, the first treatment for AIDS

Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958)

  • Took the first image, an X-ray crystallography photo, of DNA
  • Her discovery of DNA’s double helix structure was stolen by James Watson and Francis Crick, who published the discovery, only mentioning her in a footnote, and won the Nobel Prize for themselves

All of these women had to deal with sexism and exclusion in their respective fields throughout their career, yet they persevered. Thanks to their perseverance, we have X-rays, numerous successful treatments, and an overall better understanding of the human body and its processes. We are honored to be able to use our platform to keep their names alive in our collective memory.

We know that making changes in your daily habits can be difficult, but when something is as important as your health, or a potentially groundbreaking scientific discovery, you have to persevere. Anything worth anything takes courage, determination, and patience. Hopefully we can all learn a little something about courage from these brilliant women who never gave up, despite the challenges they faced every step of the way.

Feel inspired to take your life by the reins? Send us a message below. We are eager to help you reach your wellness goals.

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