African-American Medical Superheroes

In honor of Black History Month, here are some African-American superheroes who were pioneers in medicine. 

Charles Richard Drew (1904–1950)
 Dr. Drew developed a method for preserving blood plasma for transfusion.  He is considered the inventor of the blood bank and served as the director of the very first American Red Cross Blood Bank. 

Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975)
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Percy Lavon Julian was a chemist by trade.  In addition to developing a drug used for the treatment of glaucoma, Julian is best known for his synthesis of cortisone. 

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)
In 1879, Mary Eliza Mahoney became the first African American woman to complete a training program to become a nurse.

James McCune Smith (1811-1865)
Although denied admission to a U.S. medical school, in 1837, James McCune Smith became the first African American to earn a medical degree (University of Glasgow in Scotland).  He returned to New York and served as its first African-American doctor, political candidate and pharmacy owner.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831- 1895)
In 1864, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler completed her studies at the New England Female Medical College and in so doing, became the first African American woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Much of Crumpler’s work focused on the health needs of freed slaves and others with limited access to medical care.  “A Book of Medical Discourses,” which she published in 1883, is one of the first known medical books by an African American.

William Augustus Hinton (1883-1959)
For most of his research career, William Augustus Hinton worked on laboratory tests designed to improve the diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases. In 1927, he developed an easier, less expensive, and more accurate test for diagnosing syphilis.  Dr. Hinton was also the first African American professor to teach at Harvard University.


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