Image: NIH

Image: NIH

As those interested in the field of women's health, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who have come before us and championed the cause. One of the giants in this regard is Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, who passed away last week at the age of 82. Her scientific work helped to further the safety and efficacy of certain vaccines, including those for measles, rubella, and polio, but some of her greatest accomplishments took place outside the lab. Dr. Kirschstein became the first woman to ever head a National Institute of Health when she took over the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in 1974; she also served as acting director of the NIH on several occasions. Those who knew her, knew that her success only made her more passionate about helping other women and minorities go further in the sciencies. One of her many legacies is the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) that provides funding opportunities for women and minorities in the sciences. The Scientist has published a more complete story about all of Dr. Kirschstein's awards and accomplishments here, I recommend it as a way to learn about one of our greatest contemporary women scientists.

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