GMC Recognizes Medical Contributions Made By African-Americans

In honor of Black History Month, GMC recognizes the many medical contributions made by African-Americans. 

We would like to spotlight 10 individuals who used their gifts to transform healthcare.

Louis Thompkins Wright, MD (1891-1952)
Dr. Wright’s most significant contribution to clinical research was as primary investigator of the antibiotic Aureomycin. The positive results of the Aureomycin tests led to experiments with Terramycin. His research paved the way for these drugs to earn FDA approval for manufacturing and widespread use.

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, MD (1831-1895)
Dr. Crumpler was the first African-American woman to become a physician in the United States. Her publication of A Book of Medical Discourses in 1883 was one of the first by an African-American about medicine.

Theodore K. Lawless, MD (1892-1971)
Dr. Lawless gained wide recognition for his research into the treatment and cure of syphilis, leprosy, sporotrichosis and a host of other skin diseases. He was one of the first physicians to use radium in the treatment of cancer.

Alexa Canady, MD (1950-Present)
In May 1984, Dr. Canady was certified by the Board of Neurological Surgery as the first African-American female neurosurgeon in the U.S. Since then, Canady has become one of the top specialists in the U.S., and her office at Children’s Hospital in Detroit has emerged as a leader in pediatric neurosurgery.

Keith Black, MD (1957-Present)
A world-renowned neurosurgeon, scientist and a leading researcher in his field, Dr. Black is in the process of “changing the paradigm” for cancer treatment. He has developed a delivery method for administering chemotherapeutic drugs directly to the tumor and the creation of vaccines to enhance the body’s immune response. 

Daniel A. Collins, DDS (1916-2007)
Dr. Collins founded the Oral-Facial Consultative Service, which provides constructive surgery for those with facial deformities. He was co-publisher of the newspaper Reporter. He was also the first African-American dentist on the faculty of the School of Dental Science at the University of San Francisco.

Ida Gray, DDS (1867-1953)
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, DDS, became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate of dental surgery when she graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1890.

Eliza Bryant (1827-1907)
Bryant established the first nursing home for elderly African-Americans who had been left alone after slavery ended. In January 1895, a board of trustees was named and the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People opened on August 11, 1897.

Mary Eliza Mahoney, RN (1845-1926) 
Mahoney was the first African-American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the U.S. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. The NACGN eventually merged with the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1951.

Robert Fulton Boyd, MD (1855-1912)
Dr. Boyd opened Mercy Hospital in 1900. Along with10 African-American physicians, Dr. Boyd organized a national fraternity of black doctors, of which Boyd was elected president. This group was the Society of Colored Physicians and Surgeons, which later became the National Medical Association.

Though only 10 individuals were spotlighted here, we recognize the continued commitment of all clinicians to transform healthcare for all, and we thank you. 


  1. Excellent! Thanks for the article showcasing and recognizing these prominent Black Medical History Leaders.

  2. This is very informative and uplifting!


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