Black History Month
Dr. William G. Coleman Jr.
Dr. William G. Coleman Jr. was the first permanent Black scientific director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program (IRP). He directed the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. He took the leadership on transdisciplinary research that focused primarily on the biological and non-biological determinants of health disparities and their influence on the outcomes of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, among other chronic diseases.
Coleman continued research on understanding the mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, specifically in relation to ulcer disease and other bacterial infections, while serving simultaneously as the scientific director at NIMHD and a senior investigator in the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Coleman also fostered collaborations with the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Georgetown University Medical Center (Washington, D.C.), Saint Louis University School of Medicine (St. Louis), and other organizations.
Mamie Phipps Clark
Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University. Dr. Kenneth Clark was the first-ever black president of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931)
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams is honored worldwide for his pioneering roles as a physician and advocate for an African-American presence in medicine. He made history when he opened the first medical facility with an interracial staff. He later was one of the first physicians to perform open-heart surgery in the United States.
Born on January 18, 1856, in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, Williams worked as a shoemaker’s apprentice and later as a barber. Upon deciding to pursue his education, Williams completed training at Chicago Medical College. Due to the discrimination of the day, African American citizens were not admitted to hospitals, and Black doctors were refused staff positions. Driving the need for change, Williams opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses in May 1891. Provident was the nation’s first hospital with a nursing and intern program that had racially integrated staff. Williams worked as a surgeon at Provident. In 1893, he successfully treated a man with a severe stab wound to his chest and became one of the first people to perform open-heart surgery.
Williams was a charter member of the American College of Surgeons, and famed abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass publicly championed Williams and Provident Hospital. After suffering a debilitating stroke in 1926, Williams died in 1931.