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More Hidden Figures: Sickle Cell Pioneers You Should Definitely Know

February 6, 2017 by Andrea
YouTube/Screenshot

YouTube/Screenshot



1) Florence Neal Cooper-Smith

A native of Virginia, Cooper-Smith first learned about the existence of SCD when she was just a child back in the early 1940s. While waiting for a doctor's appointment, she picked up a book and started reading. That book was all about sickle cell disease, and it ignited a passion within her to help those who lived with it. Since the '60s, Cooper-Smith has been working to raise awareness of sickle cell not only in her local communities, but also state-wide and nationwide. Known as the "mother of sickle cell in Virginia," Cooper-Smith is also the first Black woman to have a professorship named after her.



2) William Warrick Cardozo
Before Cooper-Smith stumbled upon that book in her doctor's office, Cardozo had already begun groundwork on sickle cell studies. Following his studies at Hampton University (then called Hampton Institute) and Ohio State University, Cardozo began a fellowship in Chicago where he began researching sickle cell and soon published the paper, "Immunologica Studies of Sickle Cell Anemia" in 1937. In it, he detailed his discoveries: sickle cell disease was inherited and it occurred largely in Black people, among other findings.

3) Charles Drew
The first-ever medical director of the American Red Cross, Drew developed improved methods of storing blood plasma, so that blood could be collected and saved ahead of time, making blood transfusions more efficient. He also led the charge to create America's first full-scale blood bank. His methods were fueled by his discoveries that blood could be dried and later restored to its original state when its use was needed. 


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