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Black History Month: Dr. Marie Maynard Daly

Posted on February 1, 2022
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The following blog post is authored by Annaliese Collins, a public health major at Muhlenberg College, class of 2023. They are passionate about peer education, community health and wellness, and disease prevention.


Black History Month
Black History Month challenges Americans to learn more about the integral role that Black Americans have in the history of our country. 

Some of the most important developments made within the fields of medicine and science were made possible by Black doctors, biologists, professors, researchers, and patients. Families Fighting Flu will be reflecting on the legacies of five Black pioneers in medicine and science. In this post, we highlight Dr. Marie Maynard Daly.

Dr. Marie Maynard Daly
Dr. Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003) was not only the first Black American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry, but was also the first researcher to find the correlation between heightened blood pressure and high cholesterol in the blood. Dr. Daly’s father was unable to continue his college education in chemistry because of financial barriers, and this compelled Daly to excel in the world of science. After graduating from Queen’s College with a bachelor’s in chemistry and then again from New York University with a master’s, Daly earned her Ph.D. from Columbia in just three years. Daly’s research on atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of fats and cholesterol in the arteries, laid the foundation for future research on its causes and treatments. Finally, Dr. Marie M. Daly contributed to the sequencing of the human genome before the famous discovery of the double helix structure. Her work characterizing histones, the protein that forms chromosomes within our cells, was cited by Dr. Watson and Dr. Crick during their Nobel Prize acceptance speech. The successes of Dr. Daly laid the groundwork for so many researchers to come.

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