These inspiring women endured poverty, deep-seated stereotypes, and discrimination, but they went on to build hospitals, win a Nobel Prize, lead a medical school, and dramatically improve the health of millions. Legacy Medical Sales is proud to honor these amazing women throughout March in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Elizabeth Blackwell, MD
In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in the United States to be granted an MD degree. Turned away by more than 10 medical schools, Blackwell refused a professor’s suggestion that she disguise herself as a male to gain admission. In 1857, she co-founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children to serve the poor.
Gerty Theresa Cori, PhD
Gerty Theresa Cori — the first U.S. woman to win a Nobel Prize in science — and her husband Carl worked as equals, yet they were rarely treated that way. The pair delved into the body’s use of energy from food, arriving at the Nobel-winning Cori cycle that explained how glucose is metabolized — a key insight for the treatment of diabetes.
Patricia Goldman-Rakic, PhD
Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia — scientists’ understanding of these conditions and many more are founded on the groundbreaking research of Patricia Goldman-Rakic. Goldman-Rakic achieved her success by taking a multidisciplinary approach, combining such fields as anatomy, biochemistry, and pharmacology. She still had much more to contribute, peers noted, when she was struck by a car in 2003 and died two days later.
Often called “the Lady with the Lamp,” Florence Nightingale was a caring nurse and a leader. In addition to writing over 150 books, pamphlets and reports on health-related issues, she is also credited with creating one of the first versions of the pie chart. However, she is mostly known for making hospitals a cleaner and safer place to be. Even though it was not a respected profession at the time, Nightingale told her parents that she wanted to become a nurse. When the Crimean War began in 1854, the British Secretary of War asked Nightingale to manage a group of nurses that would go treat the wounded soldiers. Nightingale and 38 nurses arrived and provided excellent individual care and sanitation. Due to this the death rate went down from 40 percent to 2 percent because of their work.
Virginia Apgar was an American physician, obstetrical anesthesiologist and medical researcher, best known as the inventor of the Apgar Score, a way to quickly assess the health of a newborn child immediately after birth in order to combat infant mortality.
Dr. Subhadra Nair
She is an Indian gynaecologist, medical teacher and social worker. Her remarkable contribution in the field of gynaecology was duly acknowledged when she became the first gynaecologist to receive the Padma Shri. During her career, she got a myriad of opportunities to explore her leadership skills in different sectors. In a career spanning decades, she has worked as an Assistant surgeon, Tutor, Lecturer, Assistant Professor and Consultant surgeon.
At present, she is the chairman of the Gynaecology department of Cosmopolitan Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. She also works with Abhaya, a charitable organization engaged in the support service to destitute people. She has provided educational and medical support to a number of people by establishing various old age homes, children’s home, schools and public kitchen.
Julielynn Wong, MD, MPH, is by no means a typical doctor. She is a Harvard-educated physician-scientist who also happens to be an international expert in 3D printing, robotics, and telemedicine. She’s built her career in the intersection of medicine and engineering in order to make healthcare more accessible for the world’s most underserved communities.
Her passion drove her to found Medical Makers, a network of like-minded “makers” interested in learning how to build skills and use their creativity to combat humanitarian issues at home and abroad. When she isn’t busy with this, she’s working with 3D4MD, her company that makes easy-to-use 3D printable medical supplies.
Alice Augusta Ball
Alice Augusta Ball was born in Seattle, Washington. She studied chemistry at the University of Washington, earning two bachelor’s degrees by 1914. In 1915 she became the first woman and first Black American to graduate with a master’s degree from the College of Hawaii. She was also the first African American “research chemist and instructor” in the College of Hawaii’s chemistry department. At the age of 23, she was the first chemist to develop an injectable oil extract that treated leprosy until the 1940s. Unfortunately, due to her untimely death, Ball was unable to publish her revolutionary findings. After numerous decades professors at the University of Hawaii were able to bring her efforts and achievements to light, giving her the credit she earned.
Margaret “James Barry” Bulkely
James Barry was an excellent British Army surgeon who served across India and South Africa, and had a stand-out but not altogether odd career, except for one notable biographical detail: James was actually Margaret Bulkeley. Her wealthy family created a new persona for her so she could get a proper medical education. She was the first ever to perform a Cesarean section and had the highest recovery rate of any medic in the entire Crimean War.