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35th Historia Medica Lecture: Race, Medicine, Authorship and the ‘Discovery’ of Sickle Cell Disease, 1910-1911.

Speaker: Todd L. Savitt, PhD
Lecture Title: Race, Medicine, Authorship and the ‘Discovery’ of Sickle Cell Disease, 1910-1911.
Location: Bernard Becker Medical Library, King Center, 7th floor
Time: Thursday, January 9, 2014, 4:30 pm

A free lecture supported by the Becker Library and the Center for History of Medicine

Todd L. Savitt, PhD The first two case histories of sickle cell disease appeared in the medical literature within three months of each other in 1910 and 1911.  In an illustrated talk Savitt tells the very divergent stories of the first sickle-cell patients and their physicians against the backdrop of a racially divided America and of a highly competitive scientific community.  We see how race and class affected the discovery of SCD and how credit for one discovery went to the senior physician in charge of the case and credit for the other discovery went to a senior medical student rather than to his attending.  Savitt will also tell about his own “adventures” in tracking down the identities and backgrounds of these first two SCD patients. 

Todd L. Savitt is a historian of medicine in the Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies and dean of diversity affairs at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. His primary research interests are African American medical history and medical history of the American South and West. He has written on slave health, sickle cell anemia, sudden infant death syndrome, use of African Americans for medical experimentation, the entry of black physicians into the American medical profession, and early African American medical schools and medical journals.

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