- Jacalyn Duffin
Apgar, Virginia (07 June 1909–07 August 1974), physician, anesthesiologist, and teratologist, was born in Westfield, New Jersey, the daughter of Charles Emory Apgar, an insurance executive, and Helen May Clarke. She had two brothers, one of whom died of tuberculosis at age three. Apgar’s father conducted amateur experiments in electricity and astronomy, which stimulated her interest in science and medicine. After schooling in Westfield, Apgar attended Mount Holyoke College, obtaining her A.B. degree in 1929. She completed her M.D. at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, in 1933. Then followed two brilliant years in surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, but the department chairman, Alan Whipple, discouraged her from surgical practice. He cited the depression and financial insecurities experienced by his previous female trainees and urged her instead to consider anesthesia, not yet a medical specialty but often done by women nurse practitioners. Apgar spent six months in anesthesia training at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and six months at Bellevue Hospital in New York City before returning to Columbia-Presbyterian in 1938 as director of the Division of Anesthesiology; she was the first woman to head a medical division in that institution....