Famous Women in Medicine

Famous Women in Medicine

8th Mar 2017

March 8th marks International Women’s Day. To celebrate we’ve taken a look at three of the most important women in medical history.


Elizabeth Blackwell


Nowadays there are estimated to be over 120,000 female doctors in the UK alone, however back in the 19th century it was almost unheard of for a woman to be involved in medicine.


In 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from Geneva Medical College in the US - becoming the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree.


Dr Blackwell went on to work in London and Paris, before being forced to give up her dream of becoming a surgeon after losing the sight in one of her eyes. Despite this she would go on to co-found the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857, before retiring from medicine in the late 1870s.


Rosalyn Sussman Yalow


Perhaps best known for winning the Nobel prize in 1977, Rosalyn Sussman Yalow was a medical physicist credited with the discovery of radioimmunoassay (RIA).


RIA is a sensitive method of measuring very small amounts of a substance in the blood. Radioactive versions of a substance, or isotopes of the substance, are mixed with antibodies and inserted in a sample of the patient's blood. The same non-radioactive substance in the blood takes the place of the isotope in the antibodies, thus leaving the radioactive substance free.


This made it possible for blood donations to be scanned for infectious diseases prior to a transfusion taking place - potentially saving millions of lives every year.


Patricia Goldman-Rakic


After originally training as a psychologist Patricia Goldman-Rakic would become one of the renowned and innovative neuroscientists.


She dedicated much of her career to studying the structure and function of the brain's frontal lobes - an area that was regarded as inaccessible by many prior to her work. In the early 1970s she determined that it was the loss of dopamine in the prefrontal lobe led to memory loss.


Her research helped give medics a stronger understanding of the neurobiological basis in which the brain worked; leading to developments in helping patients with issues like schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy and (perhaps most notably) Parkinson's disease.


Goldman-Rakic was tragically killed in 2003 after being struck by a car.

Women have played a remarkable role in the development of the medical industry over the past 200 years, and look set to play an even bigger role in the future. A move to work overseas could be the career boosting change that your working life has needed - so why not make today the day you start your journey abroad by simply registering on our website.


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