Celebrating Women’s History at Einstein
When Einstein opened its doors in 1955, it broke new ground by rejecting quotas and admitting students—of all creeds, races and genders—on merit alone. There were four women among Einstein’s founding faculty, and 10 by the time Einstein’s first commencement took place in 1959 (for which the graduating class included three women).
Notable female researchers at Einstein, who have helped to shape fields of science, include (from left) Drs. Marie Maynard Daly, Berta Scharrer, Ora Mendolsohn Rosen, Lucy Shapiro, Susan Band Horwitz, Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch, and Isabelle Rapin.
“Women faculty members are valuable role models,” said Irene Blanco, M.D., associate dean for diversity enhancement and an alumna in the class of 2004. “Our new Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan calls for continuing to recruit and retain female faculty to bring us ever closer to parity.”
In connection with Women’s History Month, marked earlier this year, below we’ve highlighted seven of Einstein’s trailblazing scientists from the College of Medicine’s early years. These women made their way in spite of a dearth of female mentors to guide them. After coming to the United States to escape Nazi Germany, one was even denied bench space or a salary at another institution. She lived to the age of 100 and was renowned as “the mother of genetics.”
Meet these remarkable Einstein pioneering researchers:
- Berta Scharrer, Ph.D. (1906-1995)
Dr. Scharrer was a founder of neuroendocrinology and was in Einstein’s anatomy department from 1955 to 1995, serving for a time as co-chair with her husband Ernst. Her work on neurosecretion and neuropeptides in animal function and development led to a National Medal of Science and membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Einstein sponsors a Berta Scharrer lecture yearly.
- Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch, Ph.D. (1907-2007)
Dr. Gluecksohn-Waelsch discovered a way to trace genes’ role in development and played a major role in establishing developmental genetics. On Einstein’s founding faculty, she rose to chair of genetics and served through 1976. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and received a National Medal of Science.
- Isabelle Rapin, M.D. (1927-2017)
Dr. Rapin's discoveries and advances in pediatric neurogenetics include shaping our understanding of autism. She joined Einstein’s Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology in 1958, and also served in pediatrics and as a neurologist at Montefiore until 2012. Einstein sponsors an annual Isabelle Rapin conference and has named its pediatric neurology division in her memory.
- Marie Maynard Daly, Ph.D. (1921-2003)
Beating both gender and racial odds, Dr. Daly was the first African-American woman in the United States to win a Ph.D. in chemistry. She did groundbreaking research in heart health at Einstein from 1960 to 1986 and strove to increase the number of minority students in science. Einstein sponsors an annual lecture in her name.
- Ora Mendelsohn Rosen, M.D. (1935-1990)
Dr. Rosen studied glucose metabolism and protein kinases and later helped clone the insulin receptor. From 1966 to 1984, she served at Einstein in medicine, became chair of molecular pharmacology and helped develop one of the first NIH-funded Diabetes Research and Training Centers. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D. (1937- )
Dr. Horwitz led the team that discovered how Taxol arrests the cell cycle; the drug is now used to treat ovarian, breast and lung cancer. Dr. Horwitz came to Einstein in 1967 and is a distinguished professor of molecular pharmacology, the Falkenstein Chair in Cancer Research and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Lucy Shapiro, Ph.D. ’66 (1940 - )
Dr. Shapiro earned her Ph.D. at Einstein, in molecular biology. Her research has used microorganisms to examine questions in developmental biology and furthered understanding of stem cell function and biological diversity. She was in Einstein’s department of molecular biology from 1967 to 1986, rising to chair. Her work led to a National Medal of Science and National Academy of Sciences membership.
Do you know a remarkable woman at Einstein, researcher or otherwise? While we celebrate faculty in this story about Einstein’s history, if you know of a woman among Einstein’s staff, faculty, postdocs, or students who is deserving of recognition for their contributions to the College of Medicine, please submit a story suggestion using the “Ask Albert!” section of Inside Einstein.
Posted on: Friday, June 29, 2018