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Alexander, Hattie Elizabeth (05 April 1901–24 June 1968), microbiologist and pediatrician, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Bain Alexander, a merchant, and Elsie May Townsend, both of Scottish ancestry. The family remained in Baltimore throughout Alexander’s relatively happy and comfortable childhood. She attended Baltimore’s Western High School for Girls prior to enrolling in Goucher College, to which she won a partial scholarship. While at Goucher, her enthusiasm for a variety of sports—hockey, baseball, basketball—exceeded that for academics, and she was an unimpressive student. Nevertheless, she exhibited marked, though largely unapplied, skill in Dr. Jessie King’s bacteriology class, and fellow students in the Goucher yearbook declared that “ambition fires her; hygiene claims her; kindness portrays her.”...

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Friend, Charlotte (11 March 1921–07 January 1987), immunologist and cell biologist, was born in New York City, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants Morris Friend, a businessman, and Cecelia Wolpin, a pharmacist. Friend’s father died when she was three years old, and her mother was left with four young children to raise during the depression. Friend took advantage of the many free cultural and educational advantages that New York offered and developed a wide-ranging, lifelong interest in art, music, and science. Following graduation from Hunter College of the City of New York in 1944, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an officer in hematology laboratories in California and Florida. When World War II ended, she enrolled as a graduate student at Yale University with the financial assistance of the G.I. Bill. She received her Ph.D. in bacteriology in 1950....

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Scharrer, Berta Vogel (01 December 1906–23 July 1995), cell biologist and pioneering neuroendocrinologist, was born Berta Vogel in Munich, Germany, the daughter of Karl Phillip Vogel, a prominent judge in the Bavarian state court, and Johanna Weiss. Berta grew up in happy circumstances at home and in school, and she showed an early interest in biology and in becoming a scientist. But after 1914 her life was shadowed by World War I, by Germany's defeat and economic chaos, and ultimately by the rise of Nazism, which gained an early foothold in Munich. Scharrer entered the University of Munich in the swale of Adolf Hitler's conspiracy to overthrow of the Bavarian government, and she graduated with a Ph.D. in 1930, as the Nazis came to national prominence....