Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924 – 2017) grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Her groundbreaking research studied the relationship between skin pigmentation and cancer. She was also a staunch advocate for increasing the number of women and students of color in STEM careers. Her father, Frank Plummer was a doctor and her mother, Carriebel Cole Plummer, was physical education and dance teacher. Cobb’s grandfather was formerly enslaved man who received his freedom and graduated from Howard University in 1898, earning a degree in pharmacy. Continue reading “Jewel Plummer Cobb: African American Cancer Researcher and Scientist “→
Dr. Harold Freeman (1933 – ) is a national expert when it comes to poverty and cancer. Born in Washington DC, Freeman attended Catholic University and then went to medical school at Howard University. Freeman began his medical career at Harlem Hospital in 1967. He was alarmed to discover that many of his patients suffered with advanced stages of cancer. Freeman made it his mission to determine why his primarily African American patients experienced such a high mortality rate. His goal was to reduce the health disparities for cancer patients that were associated with race and income. Continue reading “Dr. Harold Freeman: Fighting Cancer Related Healthcare Disparities”→
African American Physicist, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, has been awarded a $1.1M grant to develop her patent-pending cancer treatment using laser activated nanoparticles. Dr. Green currently serves as an assistant professor of physics at Tuskegee University. There are less than 100 black female physicists in the U.S. She earned her masters degree and Ph.D from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When speaking about her achievements, Dr. Green says she is really no different than anyone else. She also says,
Nigerian born, Dr. Samuel Achilefu is the Director of Optical Radiology at the Washington University in St. Louis. With the help of a team of scientists, he has invented a pair of high-tech goggles which helps surgeons ‘see’ cancerous cells. When surgeons remove a tumor, diseased tissues can be hard to distinguish from healthy ones. A fluorescent marker and special goggles make cancer cells appear to glow under infrared light, so surgeons have an easier time removing them. Achilefu and his research team accomplished this using materials already approved for use in cancer patients
First, surgeons inject a tiny quantity of an infrared fluorescent marker into the patient’s bloodstream. After the tracer flows through a patient’s body which takes about four hours – the operation would begin. The goggles have been used on humans for the first time by surgeons at the Washington University School of Medicine. Four patients suffering from breast cancer and over two dozens patients with melanoma or liver cancer have been operated on using the goggles since they were developed.
Achilefu’s research was initially funded by Washington University and the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program. To develop the goggles, he assembled a team that included engineers and video game specialists. After successfully using the technology in rodents, his team received in 2012 a $2.8 million federal grant, paving the way for use in patients. The results will soon be used to seek FDA approval of the device so other surgeons across the country can start using the technology.
Achilefu is an alumnus of world-renowned Oxford University, where he completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship moved to the U.S. in 1993. He lives in the St. Louis area with his wife and two teenage children.
To see a video on how the goggles work click on the link below:
Dr.Jane Wright was an African American oncologist who, along with her father, Dr. Louis Wright conducted pioneering research into chemotherapy drugs, leading to their use as a key method of cancer treatment. Born in New York City on November 30 1919, she was the oldest of two children. Her mother was a schoolteacher. Her father, Dr. Louis Tompkins Wright, was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from Harvard Medical School, and the first black doctor to work in a municipal New York hospital.
Jane attended Smith College in Northampton, MA and then attended New York Medical College in 1942 where she graduated with honors. After completing her residency, Jane joined her father, Dr. Louis Wright, and began working at the Cancer Research Foundation that he founded at Harlem Hospital in 1949. They began testing new chemicals on patients with leukemia and lymphatic cancers. When her father died in 1952, Jane Wright became the foundation’s director. She was 33.
In 1964 Wright was appointed to the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke. The commission was responsible for establishing regional cancer centers across the country. That same year, she also co-founded the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). She returned to New York Medical College in 1967 as associate dean, professor of surgery, and head of the cancer research laboratory. She retired in 1987. She died on February, 19, 2013 at the age of 93.