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Failla, Gioacchino (19 July 1891–15 December 1961), physicist, was born in Sicily, Italy, the son of Nicolo Failla, a postal worker, and Sara Spoleti. When Gioacchino was three years old his father died. His mother then emigrated to the United States and left him with his paternal grandfather, a physician, who raised him for the next twelve years. Failla attended a private school in Cefalu. When he was fifteen years old his mother, who had been working as a seamstress, returned to Sicily to claim her son. She brought him to live with her in Manhattan in 1906....

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Leidy, Joseph (09 September 1823–30 April 1891), comparative anatomist, paleontologist, and microscopist, was born Joseph Mellick Leidy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Philip Leidy, a hatter, and Catherine Mellick, who died twenty months later in childbirth. Soon thereafter, Leidy’s father married Christiana Taliana Mellick, Catherine’s first cousin, a determined, intelligent woman who raised Leidy. German was spoken in the Leidy (Leydig) home. As a young boy, Joseph developed an intense interest in plants, animals, and minerals, and he showed an unusual talent for drawing. He was an indifferent student at a private, classical school, spending most of his time following his interest in nature, exploring the creeks and parks of Philadelphia....

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Woodward, Joseph Janvier (30 October 1833–17 August 1884), U.S. Army medical officer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Janvier Woodward and Elizabeth Graham Cox. He entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1850 and was granted an M.D. degree in 1853. He then practiced medicine in Philadelphia until 1861. During this early period of his career he also taught surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, gave private lessons in the uses of the microscope in pathology, and published the first of a number of papers on cancer....

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Yalow, Rosalyn (19 July 1921–30 May 2011), medical physicist, was born Rosalyn Sussman in the Bronx, New York. Her mother, Clara (née Zipper), was born in Germany; her father, Simon Sussman, a wholesaler of packaging materials, moved his family from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the Bronx, where his daughter stayed for most of her life. In girlhood Rosalyn contributed to the family wage by cutting out patterns for her uncle’s necktie business. Although neither of her parents went to college, she had ambitions to pursue a career in science. She learned to read before kindergarten, and when there were no books in the house, she checked them out of the public library. She attended Walton High School before entering Hunter College of the City University of New York. At Hunter, she saw guest lecturer Enrico Fermi speak on radioisotopes and urged administrators to inaugurate a physics major. The year was 1939; by January 1941 she had become the first student to complete the nascent physics program, graduating magna cum laude at the age of nineteen....