Celebrating Black History Month:
Highlighting African American individuals who've made significant contributions to the medical field
Leonidas Harris Berry, MD
Berry was the first Black doctor on staff at the Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, appointed in 1946. He chaired a commission that worked to make hospitals more inclusive for Black physicians and increase facilities in underserved parts of the city.
Marilyn Hughes Gaston, MD
Gaston was a sickle cell research pioneer and the first Black female physician director of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Health Care. She was also the second Black woman to serve as assistant surgeon general.
Patricia Era Bath, MD
Bath was the first African American to complete an ophthalmology residency in the 1960s, the first woman appointed chair of ophthalmology at a U.S. medical school and the first Black female physician to receive a medical patent in 1988 for the Laserphaco Probe, a device used in cataract surgery.
Herbert W. Nickens, MD
Nickens was the first director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1986. Later, at the AAMC, he led a project to enroll 3,000 students from underrepresented minority groups in U.S. medical schools annually by the year 2000.
Regina Marcia Benjamin, MD, MBA
Benjamin is best known for her tenure as the 18th U.S. Surgeon General. Before her appointment as surgeon general, she worked extensively with rural communities in the South.
Vivian Pinn, MD
Pinn was the first woman and first Black woman to serve as director of the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health. She was also the first African American woman to chair an academic pathology department in the United States, at Howard University College of Medicine.
Boykin was a prominent African American inventor whose work on electrical resistors led to the creation of the first successful, implantable pacemaker. Over the course of his life, he earned over 25 patents.
Velma Scantlebury, MD
Scantlebury is the nation's first African-American woman transplant surgeon. She has performed over 2,000 transplants and has special interests in researching the end results of donation and transplantation in African Americans and increasing organ donation in the African American community through education and awareness.