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School of Medicine Honors Its First African American Women Graduates


A


s part of its bicentennial celebration, Yale School of Medicine hosted a spe-


cial program to honor its first three African American women graduates on June 2. The honorees are Beatrix Ann (Mc-


Cleary) Hamburg, M.D.’48, Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette, M.D. ‘50 and Doris Louise Wethers, M.D. ‘52. The celebration honored two others


who established firsts as African Ameri- can faculty at the medical school, Dr. Claudewell Sydney Thomas, the first ap- pointed African American full-time fac- ulty member in 1965 and Dr. James Pier- pont Comer, the first African American faculty member to attain tenure status and full professor rank. “We are delighted to celebrate the ac-


complishments of these extraordinary Af- rican Americans who courageously broke the racial barrier at Yale School of Medi- cine,” said Yale School of Medicine Dean Dr. Robert Alpern, “All subsequent stu- dents, both minority and non-minority, owe them a debt of gratitude.” Hamburg’s achievement in 1948 as


Yale’s first African American woman to graduate with a medical degree was not the first path breaking challenge of her ca- reer. She was the first self-identified Afri- can American to graduate from Vassar College, the last of the historic “Seven Sister” colleges to integrate. Coming to Yale to “seek the best medical education,” she left to embark on a career in child psy- chiatry that led her to the highest ranks of


— By Karen N. Peart


academic medicine as a clinician, innova- tive researcher and educator. She has held professorships at Stanford, Harvard and Mt. Sinai Schools of Medicine and re- ceived numerous distinctions and honor- ary awards. She is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and fellow of the American Association for the Advance- ment of Science. Her academic career continues today as the DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Her daughter, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, is the current U.S. Food and Drug Administration commis- sioner.


Hamburg’s graduation in 1948 ended a long era of restrictive racial and gender-


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The Black E.O.E. Journal © 2010 NAS


www.blackeoejournal.com


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