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Beecher, Henry Knowles (04 February 1904–25 July 1976), medical researcher, was born Henry Knowles Unangst in Wichita, Kansas, the son of Henry Unangst, a night watchman and carpenter, and Mary Julia Kerley. Young Henry grew up in modest circumstances in Wichita and nearby Peck, Kansas, in a family that did not place much emphasis on intellectual attainment. He worked odd jobs to pay his way at the University of Kansas, receiving an A.B. in 1926 and an A.M. in 1927 from that institution. In 1928 Henry left Kansas to enter Harvard Medical School. But, before leaving, he changed his surname to Beecher—an identifier that would be more widely recognized and admired in Boston than Unangst. He was, in fact, related to the famous abolitionist Beecher clan through his maternal grandmother, Maria Kerley, whose maiden name was Beecher....

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Alexis Carrel. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Carrel, Alexis (28 June 1873–05 November 1944), scientist, was born Marie Joseph Auguste Carrel in Sainte-foy-Lès Lyon, France, the son of Alexis Carrel-Billiard, a manufacturer of textiles, and Anne-Marie Ricard. In 1890 Carrel entered the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Lyon, completing his training in 1900. While still a medical student, he began research on the problems of joining severed blood vessels. His interest in this area was supposedly aroused because surgeons had failed to save the life of Marie-François-Sadi Carnot, the French president who was fatally wounded by an assassin while visiting Lyon in 1894. Carrel’s triangulation method (1902) required inserting single threads at three points on the circumference of each vessel, pulling gently on each thread so that the circular vessels became triangular, and finally sewing the straight edges together....

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Goldberger, Joseph (16 July 1874–17 January 1929), medical research scientist, was born in Girált, Hungary, the son of Samuel Goldberger and Sarah Gutman, farmers. In 1881 he came to the United States with his parents, Jewish immigrants, who opened a small grocery on New York’s East Side. The family lived above the store, which soon prospered. Joseph delivered groceries and ran errands....

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Ivy, Andrew Conway (25 February 1893–07 February 1978), medical scientist, was born in Farmington, Missouri, the son of Henry McPherson Ivy, a chemistry professor, and Cynthia Smith, a biology teacher. Shortly after Andrew’s birth, the family moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where Ivy’s father taught at the State Normal School, and his mother taught at a local high school. When Ivy was five years old, he seized on the idea of becoming a physician, inspired by a local doctor who traveled about the Mississippi River town with a horse and buggy. In 1907 Ivy’s father was killed in a horse-riding accident. Ivy paid his own way at the Normal School in Cape Girardeau by teaching part time at a local high school. While juggling the responsibilities of both student and teacher, he played second base on the baseball team (he was offered a contract by a St. Louis Cardinals farm team), starred as quarterback and defensive end on the football team, and achieved other successes as a basketball player, tennis player, gymnast, wrestler, boxer, musician, and debater....

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Janeway, Charles Alderson (26 May 1909–28 May 1981), medical researcher, was born in New York City, the son of Theodore Caldwell Janeway and Eleanor C. Alderson. Janeway’s father and his grandfather, Edward G. Janeway, were both eminent physicians and professors of medicine. In the spring of 1914 ...

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Leake, James Payton (04 June 1881–21 February 1973), medical scientist, was born in Sedalia, Missouri, the son of James Leake and Matilda Ann Love. Nothing more is known of his parents or early childhood. Leake attended Smith Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, before going to Harvard University, from which he received an A.B. in 1903. He then attended Harvard Medical School, receiving an M.D. in 1907. He entered the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) as a medical officer in 1909; he would serve this federal agency with distinction until his retirement more than three decades later....

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Lovelace, William Randolph, II (30 December 1907–12 December 1965), surgeon and scientist in aviation and space medicine, was born in Springfield, Missouri, the son of Edgar Blaine Lovelace, a rancher, and Jewell Costley. Randolph was raised north of Sunnyside, New Mexico, where his father homesteaded. In September 1925 Lovelace entered Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After a poor performance in his freshman year, his outlook improved the next year, and in 1930 he completed a B.A. with a premedicine major, allowing his entrance into Washington University Medical School....

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Macklin, Madge Thurlow (06 February 1893–14 March 1962), medical scientist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of William Harrison Thurlow, a stationery engineer, and Margaret De Grofft. She received an A.B., Phi Beta Kappa, in 1914, at Goucher College, Baltimore.

In the summer of 1914 Macklin first demonstrated her passion for social justice by volunteering to address the public on street corners and at open-air meetings in and around Baltimore on behalf of woman suffrage. That experience of recognizing social injustice motivated her to become a physician, in which capacity she felt she could be more effective....

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MacLeod, Colin Munro (28 January 1909–11 or 12 Feb. 1972), medical scientist, was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, the son of John Charles MacLeod, a Presbyterian minister, and Lillian Munro, a schoolteacher. His early schooling is remarkable because he skipped so many grades during his elementary education that on its completion he was too young to be admitted to McGill College. He therefore spent a year as a sixth-grade schoolteacher before entering college. He graduated from McGill School of Medicine in 1932 and after two years of residency training joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York....

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Michaelis, Leonor (16 January 1875–08 October 1949), medical scientist, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Moriz Michaelis, a small-business owner, and Hulda Rosenbaum. He received a humanistic education in a Berlin Gymnasium before entering the University of Berlin in 1893 to study medical science. He received his M.D. degree in 1896. He had a talent for seizing upon important concepts and developments in the medical sciences and translating them into clear and forceful prose. This talent became evident soon after he completed his education. His first book, a treatise on embryology for medical students, underwent nine German editions and translations into several languages after its appearance in 1898....

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Rous, Francis Peyton (05 October 1879–16 February 1970), Nobel Prize-winning cancer researcher, Nobel Prize–winning cancer researcher, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Charles Rous, a grain broker, and Frances Anderson Wood. His father’s death in 1890 left the family in difficult circumstances. His mother struggled to provide educational opportunities for Rous and his two sisters. A scholarship enabled him to attend the Johns Hopkins University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1900. The same year Rous entered the Johns Hopkins Medical School. During his medical training Rous contracted tuberculosis and spent a year working on a ranch in Texas before resuming his medical studies. After receiving his medical degree in 1905, Rous served an internship at Johns Hopkins. His disinclination for clinical medicine led him in 1906 to seek a position as an assistant in pathology in the laboratory of Aldred Scott Warthin at the University of Michigan. In 1907 he spent a year in postgraduate study in anatomy in Dresden. After his return to Michigan and after recuperating from tuberculosis in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Rous was awarded a grant from the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research to help fund his investigations of the cellular output of the lymph glands, bringing him to the attention of ...

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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....