Tag: Medicine

#MedicMondays: Aaron McDuffie Moore

Born to free African American parents during the Civil War, Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923) was trained to be a school teacher, but after several years teaching high school he entered Leonard Medical School at Shaw University. He graduated in 1888 and became the first black physician in Durham.

In 1898, Moore and other investors founded the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., and later persuaded the Duke family into backing a hospital for African Americans. When Lincoln Hospital opened in 1901, Moore became its first superintendent. After Mutual’s office moved from Main Street to Parrish Street in 1905 Moore moved his own medical practice there and in 1908 he and others opened the Bull City Drug Co., a pharmacy, on Parrish Street with a second branch, on Fayetteville Street in Hayti.
Moore also founded the first public library for African Americans, as a book collection at White Rock Baptist Church. The collection and its patronage rapidly grew and led to creation of the Stanford L. Warren public library.
Moore’s home was on Fayetteville Street next door to White Rock. It was demolished during Durham Freeway construction in the 1960s.

#MedicMondays: Dr. Vivien Thomas

With no formal medical training, he developed techniques and tools that would lead to today’s modern heart surgery. In operating rooms all over the world, great surgeons who received their training from Vivien Thomas are performing life-saving surgical procedures. We honor his legacy with the naming of the Vivien Thomas High School Research Program at the Morehouse School of Medicine. The Vivien Thomas Research Program for high school students was established to provide experiences in the research laboratories at the Morehouse School of Medicine. Students conduct research for six weeks under the direction of a medical school faculty member and learn the content, process and methodology involved in inquiry science. At the end of this summer experience, students present their research findings to the faculty and staff at MSM.

Vivien T. Thomas was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on August 29, 1910. His family later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was educated in the public schools. In 1929, after working as an orderly in a private infirmary to raise money for college, he enrolled as a premedical student at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College. The bank crash that year wiped out his life’s savings, forcing him to drop out of school.

In 1930, he took a position at Vanderbilt University as a laboratory assistant with Alfred Blalock. Thomas’ abilities as a surgical assistant and research associate were of the highest quality, and when Blalock moved to Johns Hopkins in 1941 he asked Thomas to accompany him. Thomas joined Blalock’s surgical team and helped to develop the procedure used in the “blue baby” operation. He helped train many of the surgeons at Johns Hopkins in the delicate techniques necessary for heart and lung operations.

Thomas was a member of the medical school faculty from 1976 until 1985 and was presented with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws by the Johns Hopkins University in 1976. Today, in operating rooms all over the world, there are great surgeons performing life saving surgical procedures who received their training from Vivien Thomas. His achievements stand as a testament to the power of research, discovery, and persistence to improve the health of generations to come, a legacy we honor with the naming of the Vivien Thomas High Summer Research Program at Morehouse School of Medicine.

I Love Needles, But I Hate The Doctors! (Pt. 2)

I’ve written about my disdain for the doctors before. Well, my disdain for going to the doctors. There were so many things I don’t like about going to the doctors so I thought I would write a follow up list. Check it out –

The long wait (again) Yes, so in addition to waiting in the waiting room I know am in a separate littler room where I am forced to wait for the all-so powerful Oz, I mean doctor, to come see little old me. Not only am I sitting on a cold, hard slab of a table I’m also half naked or undressed in some capacity. I can’t dare get on my phone because the doctor might come in & I’ll be forced to end that phone call prematurely. I don’t want to touch those filthy magazines they have in the room because a bunch of sick people have already touched them, not to mention they’re not entertaining at all! I don’t want to read about the ear canal, I just want my inner ear infection to go away!


The doctor’s use of ‘fancy’ terms to tell me what’s wrong with me – You went to medical school & I didn’t. I get it. But I want to know what’s wrong with me in laymen’s terms, not in your ‘medical speak’. All that does is cause me to ask you even more questions because I don’t understand what you’re talking about which takes even more of your precious “doctor time”. Use plain English please. Thank you

fancy words

I always feel rushed – There’s never any time to ask questions at the end of my visit. I know doctors have quotas & can’t spend an inordinate amount of time with just 1 patient but I’m still the customer and if I have questions about my health, then darnnit, I should be able to ask all of them (I’ve even so much as offered to take my doctor to lunch so I could grille her during her lunch hour)


I never know how much I’ll owe when I leave – Although I have insurance it’s never quite clear exactly how much my portion of the bill will be. I understand the whole deal with my deductible & co-pay but I still never know how much the actual doctor’s visit costs. All I’m ever told to do is wait to be invoiced but by then it’s too late – the debt has already been accrued. They have a price list at the nail salon, dry cleaners and there are prices of everything at the grocery store. Why can’t they do that technique at the doctor’s office?


They never find anything wrong with me – I know this is a good thing but it just really sucks that I have to set time aside in my day, sit & wait for a doctor, pay a ridiculous amount of money for all of 10 minutes of actual “doctor face-time” only to find out that there was really no need for me to even come in. Again, I’m not complaining about being healthy, I just don’t think I should have to pay to find that out. LOL!


There’s no parting gift – With any other event you attend, there’s usually a party favor, a souvenir booklet, pictures, something. While I don’t need any of that from my doctor’s visit, it would be nice to receive a letter or a note of appreciation for my business. Maybe even a discount off of a future visit, you know like at the car wash – basically, something saying that they appreciate my visit & value me as a customer. After all, with so many doctors practicing medicine in this country, surely I can always take my business elsewhere.

party bag

Did I miss anything? What are some of your reasons for not liking the doctor’s office? Or are you the opposite of me & actually enjoy going? I’d love to hear in the comments section below –

I Love Needles, But I Hate The Doctors! (Part 1)


I hate going to the doctors and I know I’m not alone. No matter if it’s for a simple check-up or a major surgery, countless people avoid going to the doctors every year. There are all sorts of reasons for not wanting to go, ranging from not liking needles to afraid of hearing bad news.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of the doctors. I know that they’re there for my health, so I have respect for their profession. I’m also not afraid of needles. Yeah, they hurt but only for a split second so that doesn’t bother me so much. I don’t have a problem being around sick people, or even using my health insurance.

I just don’t like going to the doctors, but not for the reasons you think –

  • It’s hard to find a good one – With so many physicians available it’s hard to determine which one is actually worth their salt. Sure, I can narrow down my search by getting a recommendation from a friend or looking online but that still doesn’t help me pick a doctor that is just right for me. There are too many reviews to read, websites to check out and phone calls to make just to find 1 good practitioner.


  • Finding parking & paying for it – Unless your doctor is in a rural area with several acres surrounding their office, more than likely they are in a city where it can be difficult to find parking. At one of my doctor’s there really isn’t any street parking so you are forced to park in the nearby parking garage (too bad that wasn’t listed on her website). Parking can range anywhere from $1-$10 for a visit, depending on how long the office visit is. So not only do I have to build extra time into my appointment to account for finding parking, I also have to tack onto that the price of the actual parking.

  • All the forms to fill out – This is especially annoying whenever I’m a first time patient but it’s super annoying nonetheless. Why can’t I just hand you my insurance card, my driver’s license & be done with it? Nine times outta ten, the doctor doesn’t even read my health history and the confidentiality forms are the law so I shouldn’t even have to sign those. Unless, there is someone who is chronically ill, I think the doctor is wasting a whole lot of paper printing out those forms that I leave mostly empty.
  • The long wait – Okay, if I made an appointment for a certain time, why am I not being seen at that time? I understand that people can run behind schedule but it’s never just 5-10 minutes. I’m usually sitting out in the waiting room for much longer than that. I’m out there stuck watching whatever channel the TV is stuck on, or reading some 2 month old magazine. I’ve even gotten to the point of bringing a book or a notepad with me (how else do I come up with these blogs?!) just to pass the time. The tricky thing is that doctor’s know that they plan on making people wait for a while – why else are there so many chairs in the waiting room already?

  • Intimacy – It’s a little awkward being naked around someone you don’t really know. Especially if it’s for the first time. What are they going to think of my body? Did I remember to shave my legs today? Are they going to talk about me (or any of my body parts) over dinner tonight with their family? And unlike a date, there’s not really any small talk first because you’re already naked before the doctor even comes into the room. How can I show my bare body to someone & I don’t even know their first name? It’s crazy to think that someone I found on Yelp! gets to see me naked. It’s just so hard to be at ease with someone groping all over your body and you don’t even know them.
  • What has been your experience at the doctors? Good, bad, or are you like me & hate going altogether?

August Is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month!

August is SMA Awareness Month!! Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA, is a disease that most people don’t know about. SMA is a motor neuron disease. It refers to a group of inherited diseases of the motor nerves that cause muscle weakness and atrophy (wasting).The motor neurons affect the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. It is a relatively common “rare disorder”: approximately 1 in 6000 babies born are affected and about 1 in 40 people are genetic carriers. In a person with mutated genes, this protein is absent or significantly decreased, and causes severe problems for motor neurons. Motor neurons are nerve cells in the spinal cord which send out nerve fibers to muscles throughout the body. Since SMN protein is critical to the survival and health of motor neurons, nerve cells may shrink and eventually die without this protein, resulting in muscle weakness. As a child with SMA grows, it is difficult for his/her weakened muscles to keep up with the demands of daily activities. The resulting weakness can also lead to bone and spine changes that may cause breathing problems and further loss of function.

SMA affects muscles throughout the body. In the most common types, weakness in the legs is generally greater than in the arms. Sometimes feeding, swallowing, and respiratory function (e.g., breathing, coughing, and clearing secretions) can be affected. When the muscles used for breathing and coughing are affected and weakened, this can lead to an increased risk for pneumonia and other respiratory infections, as well as breathing difficulty during sleep. The brain’s cognitive functions and the ability to feel objects and pain are not affected. People with SMA are generally grouped into one of four types (I, II, III, IV) based on their highest level of motor function or ability.

Here are some Spinal Muscular Atrophy facts (according to the Families of SMA organization):

  • One in every 6,000 babies is born with SMA
  • SMA can strike anyone of any age, race or gender
  • One in every 40 people carries the gene that causes SMA
  • The child of two carriers has a one in four chance of developing SMA
  • 7.5 million Americans are carriers
  • SMA does not affect sensation and intellectual activity in patients. It commonly is observed that patients with SMA are unusually bright and sociable

Read one mother’s journey about life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy – the ‘Tiffany Moore’s story’. Click here to find out how she dealt with amazing twin sons who were born with SMA. Learn about their personal story & the challenges they faced. You can also support the #MoreForMoore campaign by purchasing the Moore Campaign T-shirt and raise awareness for SMA!

So how can YOU make more people aware of SMA? Here are three great ideas:

1) Tell everyone

This idea has the benefit of not costing a thing. If you have a child with SMA or you have SMA yourself, you probably find that people are curious (to say the least). Don’t ignore them … teach them. Tell them about the disease and what it does, then tell them about this website and how they can help.

2) Donate

Fighting a killer takes money, and while we understand that times are tight and it costs a lot to care for someone with SMA, a donation of any amount can help. Your gift to FightSMA will fund life-saving science and research, and also makes possible programs offering support to families battling SMA.  Click here to donate.

3) Lobby your legislator

The National Pediatric Research Nework Act will soon be up for a vote in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would drastically improve our ability to find a treatment for SMA and could make finding a cure a reality. Click here to read help with how to contact your senator.

Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for SMA. However, research aimed at finding a treatment or cure for SMA is moving rapidly forward. Much of this research is focused on SMN2, a gene that partially compensates for the function of the gene (SMN1) that, when mutated (abnormal), is the cause of most cases of SMA.

Thanks to the support of our community, there’s great reason for hope. We know what causes SMA and what we need to do to develop effective therapies, and we’re on the verge of major breakthroughs that will strengthen our children’s bodies, extend life, and eventually lead to a cure.



* If you know someone who has been recently diagnosed with SMA please e-mail infopack@fsma.org to request a free informational packet. For more information, visit any of the following organizations:

I Got That Good Stuff!

I have some delicious blood! I just came back from my trip overseas & brought back a total of 15 mosquito bites. My right leg got hit the hardest, followed by my left leg, my foot, my arm, my back & even my hand. Fortunately my upper body & face was left untouched. Of course, being bitten sucks but it’s certainly not my first time being attacked by mosquitoes. For some reason whenever I travel I tend to come back home with a few “souvenirs” so I’m quite used to the bites, but I still wish it didn’t happen to me so much.

This got me to wondering, why do I tend to attract so many mosquitoes when other people don’t? Well, I did a little digging on what attracts mosquitoes, how to prevent them from biting and finally what to do when you get bitten. Here’s what I found out –


 Most mosquitoes seek out certain blood types and certain characteristics when choosing their prey. On average 1 in 10 people are considered extremely attractive to these insects. It’s also been noted that genetics account for 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. And since it’s the female mosquito that does all the biting, they seek out human blood because it enables their eggs to become fertile. Here’s who at higher risk:

1. You wore too much perfume or cologne. If you must wear any at all then bathe yourself in the strongest perfume possible. But beware, floral scents are especially attractive to mosquitoes.

2. Watch what you wear – Darker colors make you stand out to mosquitoes

3. You’re sweating too much -Mosquitoes are very attracted to a person’s sweat. This is due to the combination of lactic acid and emitting more carbon dioxide.

4. All that carbon dioxide – Try not to breathe so much! Mosquitoes are drawn to carbon dioxide, so the more you emit the more likely you’ll be bitten. Adults emit more carbon dioxide than children so in general, adults are more likely to be bit than children.

5. Higher body temperature -Some people naturally have higher body temperatures than other people and mosquitoes are drawn to warmer blood.

6. Drink liquor outdoors – Drinking alcohol can drastically increase your chances of being bit. This is because drinking alcohol increases your body temperature.

7. Using alpha hydroxy products on your skin – Many skin care products contain lactic acid which might help boost your chemistry with these blood-seeking bugs. Look for lotions and creams labeled “alpha hydroxy,” which provide the most lactic acid & avoid them at all costs!

8. You have high cholesterol – If you know you have high cholesterol then you can be certain that your blood makes you automatically more attractive to mosquitoes. Having low cholesterol doesn’t just save your life, it can also save your skin!

9. Are you pregnant? – Expectant women naturally exhale more frequently, drawing more carbon dioxide. She also runs a higher body temperature and has more blood circulating through her body than someone who’s not expecting.

10. Don’t stand or sit still too much- Mosquitoes seek out people who they believe will provide them with the best opportunity to feed (after all it is hard to hit a moving target!). If you are standing around, taking a nap outside or just relaxing — you are more susceptible to getting bit by a mosquito.

11. Your blood type If you have ‘Type O’ blood, you are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than any other blood type. Sorry O’s!!

12. Good ole genetics – Ah, something else to blame on your parents! Around 85% of your chances for being popular in the mosquito community is linked to your genetics.


Try not to scratch the itch! Doing so will only aggravate the bite, making it itchier and more prone to infection. Here are some ways you can “soothe” that itch:

  • Use your own saliva – I know it may sound gross but it will alleviate the itch & “wash” out any fluids left behind by the mosquito
  • Use your fingernail to press an “X” into the bite. This disperses the protein and stops the itch for a while
  • Hold a penny directly on top of the bites – Copper often makes the skin feel better after being “stung” (this may work for a bee sting as well)
  • Nail polish (hopefully it’s clear polish)
  • Calamine lotion or an hydrocortisone cream, like Cortizone
  • Water may help alleviate the itch, whether it’s super hot or super cold
  • Dab some deodorant over the bite area (a deodorant stick, not the gel)
  • Rub a wet aspirin or a Tums over the affected are. Basically anything with a chalky-like substance
  • Dab some toothpaste over the bite area (not the gel kind though)
  • Dab some mouthwash over the bite area – It might sting a little but it’ll be better than the itching
  • Mix baking soda & warm water – Apply the paste to your bite for a little soothing action
  • Put a wet sponge in the freezer so that when you get itchy you can put the sponge on the bite. Just make sure that the sponge is clean
  • Take a nice, relaxing hot bath – This is a good remedy for a lot of things, not just bug bites
  • Lemon or lime juice (even if it’s artificial juice)
  • Aloe Vera
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cooled tea (or a chilled teabag) – It can work wonders when applied to insect bites. Apply it like a cold compress
  • Tee tree oil or lavender oil
  • A raw potato
  • Vapor rub – Good ole’ Vicks; it’s good for more than just colds!

Remember to apply any of the items mentioned above very gently apply to the affected area. Use your clean fingers or a cotton swab to apply. Leave on only for a few minutes then wash it off with warm water. And just like with any other physical ailment, go see a doctor if you develop an infection or think you have more than just a mosquito bite.


There are a few ways to keep the biting to a minimum. Let’s take a look at some of those ways:

  • Burn a candle – Mosquitos don’t like flames or smoke so stay close to anything burning!
  • Keep covered. Also, try to wear lighter colors because darker colors make you stand out to mosquitoes.
  • Take your vitamins! – There is something about vitamin B that keeps the bugs away. It’s very safe & good to keep in your luggage
  • Stay close to a fan – Supposedly, mosquitoes aren’t very good at flying
  • Professional mosquito control – Go for the big guns! If prevention doesn’t produce adequate results, professional mosquito control companies provide barrier spray treatments.
  • Eliminate standing water – The #1 thing you can do to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larvae, pupa and adult. All but the last stage occur in water. Without water, mosquitoes can’t reproduce.
  • Remove yard debris – Be aware of areas where debris collects in the yard, such as grass clippings and piles of leaves
  • Trim back vegetation – Mosquitoes feast on plant nectar when they aren’t prowling for blood, so they spend a lot of time in tall grasses or around shrubs and bushes. Mosquitoes like a place to hang out during the heat of the day so if you’ve got heavy vegetation around the house, it’s cooler and it’s damp and they’ll hang out on the leafy tissue on the bottom of those plants.

So which insect repellent should I use? The Center for Disease Control recommends a variety of safe and effective repellents for you and your family. Look for these key active ingredients:DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. Pick your favorite insect repellent and use it whenever you go outside!

Do you have any tips on how to keep the mosquitoes away? If you’ve bitten like I have, what did you do to keep from scratching too much? Share in the comments below –


May Is Asthma Awareness Month!

Each May, thousands of organizations across the U.S. join together for Asthma Awareness Month (AAM) in an effort to increase public awareness and improve the lives of children and families with asthma. Be part of this national effort to get asthma under control in communities nationwide!

What is asthma? It’s an incurable inflammatory disorder of the airways. Picture this: You’re short of breath, and you’re trying to fill your lungs by sucking air through a tube the diameter of a plastic coffee stirrer. That’s the helpless, panicked feeling a growing number of people with asthma have experienced . . . time and again.

Asthma is chronic . . . it can be life-threatening . . . and it’s one of our nation’s most common and costly diseases. And the severity of asthma — as well as the frequency of asthma “episodes” — can be influenced by exposures to allergens and irritants in the environment, both indoors and outdoors.

Asthmais one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. There are 26 million people in the United States living with asthma, a disease affecting the lungs, causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma successfully to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes.

Asthma affects people of all ages and backgrounds. In most cases, we don’t know what causes asthma, and we don’t know how to cure it. Certain factors may make it more likely for one person to have asthma than another. If someone in your family has asthma, you are more likely to have it. Regular physical exams that include checking your lung function and checking for allergies can help your healthcare provider make the right diagnosis.

Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and following the advice of your healthcare provider. Using what you know about managing your asthma can give you control over this chronic disease. When you control your asthma, you will breathe easier, be as active as you would like, sleep well, stay out of the hospital, and be free from coughing and wheezing. To learn more about how you can control your asthma, visit CDC’s asthma site.

With your healthcare provider’s help, you can make your own asthma management plan so that you know what to do based on your own symptoms. Use your asthma medicine as prescribed and be aware of common triggers in the environment known to bring on asthma symptoms, including smoke (including second-hand and third-hand cigarette smoke), household pets, dust mites, and pollen. Limit or avoid exposure to these and other triggers whenever possible. The important thing to remember is that you can control your asthma.

To learn about how CDC supports state asthma control programs, see our Success Stories from CDC’s National Asthma Control Program, National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects.

How to help reduce asthma episodes

Start with an Allergen Control Plan:

  • Work with your regular doctor or clinic to figure out which allergens affect your child the most
  • Concentrate on controlling those allergens
  • Start with the easiest, least expensive options, like working to remove “triggers” in the home — especially the ones that most affect your child

Put your plan into action:

  • Set up your room-by-room cleaning plan — starting where the person with asthma sleeps
  • Wash bedding and curtains
  • Dust and vacuum
  • Clean windowsills and frames
  • Wet mop floors
  • Remove stuffed animals (or enclose them in a cabinet)

Get educated about asthma:

  • Learn as much as you can about asthma
  • Ask your doctor or clinic for asthma education information and a written asthma action plan
  • Join an asthma support group. Studies show they can help you set and reach your goals
  • Keep an asthma diary to track asthma episodes
  • Work with your doctor or clinic to determine other steps you need to take — such as removing carpeting from your home

Want To be More Active With Asthma Awareness?

Join the asthma awareness Twitter chat

Join the NHLBI’s Asthma Awareness Twitter Chat with U.S. News on May 14 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT. Follow the chat using the #AsthmaChat hashtag.

Join the “Get Asthma Aware” thunderclap

Join the NHLBI’s “Get Asthma Aware” Thunderclap by May 6 to pledge your voice to learning more about asthma. Thunderclap is an online action site where users can share the same message at the same time on social media.

Across the country, national organizations and local coalitions are working together to provide strategies and solutions for asthma sufferers and their families. Click on the resources below for more information:

asthma 2

READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Five Black Chemists Who Changed the World

To mark the start of Black History Month, five black chemists have been honoured by the American Chemical Society. The society released a commemorative video looking back at the careers of five scientists who changed the world. They include Percy Julian, Mae Jemison, Patricia Bath, Betty Harris and George Washington Carver. The video was produced in conjunction with the National Organisation for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

George Washington Carver 1864 – 1943

George Washington Carver is believed to have been born a slave in Missouri in 1864. He went on to change the lives of many poor farmers through his research and inventions. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed him ‘Black Leonardo’.

He and his brother were kidnapped as babies but were returned as orphans to their owners Moses and Susan Carver. Carver was frail and sickly, so spent most days helping Susan around the house, during which time she taught him to read and write.

He spent years travelling around the country attending different schools, eventually ending up at the State Agricultural College at Ames, Iowa, to study agriculture.

Carver pioneered the use of peanuts in agriculture and his methods became instrumental during the Great Depression, where his advice allowed for better food production.

Over the years, he managed to manufacture hundreds of products from peanuts, including cheese, soap and milk, while inventing around 100 products from sweet potatoes.


Percy Julian 1899 – 1975

Percy Lavon Julian was born in Alabama as the eldest of six children. His father, James Sumner Julian, was a slave and he grew up during the time of heightened racism in the US. Among his childhood memories was finding a man lynched while walking in some woods near his home.

Julian’s parents steered all their children towards education and he eventually studied at DePauw University in Indiana, which accepted African American students. He earned an Austin Fellowship in Chemistry and went to Harvard University in 1923, but the institution worried that white students would dislike being taught by a black person, so withdrew his teaching assistantship meaning he could not complete his PhD.

He later received a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship and was able to obtain his PhD at the University of Vienna in 1931.

Julian became a research chemist and pioneered the chemical synthesis of medical drugs from plants, becoming the first to create the large-scale synthesis of hormones such as testosterone, steroids and progesterone.

He went on to start his own company, where he worked to reduce the cost of producing steroids, meaning more people could access them for medical problems. Julian was only the second African American to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and was one of the first to receive a doctorate in chemistry.


Betty Harris 1940 – Present

Betty Harris was born in Louisiana and she spent her childhood on a farm with 11 siblings. She was interested in Chemistry from a young age and studied at the Southern University and Atlanta University, which awarded her a BA and MA in science respectively.

Harris went on to earn her PhD from the University of New Mexico and she went on to teach chemistry and maths, before spending over 20 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked in the high explosives research and development department.

During her time at LANL, she worked in areas including hazardous waste treatment and environmental restoration facilities contaminated with energetic materials such as propellants, gun propellants, and explosives. She is now a noted expert in the chemistry of explosives.

Outside of the laboratory, Harris worked with the Girl Scouts to develop a chemistry badge similar to that given to the Boy Scouts.


Patricia Bath 1942 – Present

Patricia Bath was born in New York. Her father was an immigrant from Trinidad and both parents encouraged her academically. After graduating from high school early, she received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from New York’s Hunter College in 1967.

After moving to Washington DC, she received a doctoral degree from Howard University College of Medicine. While interning at Harlem Hospital Centre, she realised that poor members of racial minority groups suffered disproportionality from blindness, and that their care was limited. She persuaded her professors at Columbia University to operate on blind patients and pioneered a volunteer-based outreach programme to help disadvantaged people.

Between 1970 and 1973 she served as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University, becoming the first black person to do so. She also became the first African American woman to serve as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Centre and the first to receive a patent for a medical purpose – her Laserphaco Probe is used to treat cataracts.

As well as her medical achievements, she also founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness


Mae Jemison 1956 – Present

Mae Carol Jemison was the first African American women to travel in space when she went on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She was born in Alabama to a maintenance supervisor father and a school teacher mother. She moved to Chicago when three years old and became increasingly interested in science throughout her earlier education. She graduated high school in 1973 at the age of 16 and went on to study at Stanford University.

Jemison said that throughout her university education, she experienced barriers because of her race and gender, with some professors pretending she was not there.

In 1981 she obtained a medical degree from Cornell Medical College and was hired by Nasa as an astronaut in 1987. She said her inspiration for joining was the African American actress Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura in Star Trek.

After leaving Nasa in 1993, she became a professor at Cornell University and was a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College. She later founded her own company, BioSentient, and is looking to develop a device that monitors the nervous system.

She also makes a number of public appearances and recently participated in a forum for promising female students with Michelle Obama.