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Women at Washington University: Hemprova P. Ghosh McDonald (1918-2014)

Figure 1: Dr. Hemprova P. Ghosh, Identification photo, 4-29-1959. VC246-59-3119
Figure 1: Dr. Hemprova P. Ghosh, Identification photo, 4-29-1959. VC246-59-3119
Figure 2: S.C. Roy to E.V. Cowdry, 20 June 1950 Box 8, Folder 2, Anatomy and Neu
Figure 2: S.C. Roy to E.V. Cowdry, 20 June 1950 Box 8, Folder 2, Anatomy and Neurobiology Department Records
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A letter from Calcutta

 

Department of Applied Chemistry
92, Upper Circular Rd.,
Calcutta-9 INDIA

June 20, 1950.

Dear Dr. Cowdry,

 

I hope you are in receipt of my last letter of May 3, 1950. I am writing to you for one of my friends Mrs. Dr. H.P. Ghosh. She is a brilliant worker, original and painstaking. Quite unfortunately she has very recently lost her husband and coworker through Leukemia. She wants to devote the rest of her life in research on cancer, particularly on leukemia, for which as you know there is hardly any proper facility in India. You have already done me a great favour by taking in Dr. Chatterjee in your Laboratories; so I feel much reluctance to request you again for another candidate. But as the case stands I could not help it. I hope you would kindly excuse me for that. Mrs. Ghosh can with great difficulty manage her passage to the States. Due to the devaluation of Indian currency and at the top of everything her husband’s untimely death, it is practically impossible for her to meet the living expenses while she would be there. I also would not have requested you for a sort of Fellowship just to meet her living expenses, if it could be helped otherwise. I would therefore request you most earnestly whether you can kindly help her in getting a Fellowship from your University or any other sources while she would be working with you. I am enclosing herewith her particulars including a small-sized photograph. I am confident you would do your very best for her.

 

I understand from Dr. Chatterjee that you are very soon leaving for Paris to attend the International Conference on Cancer.  I hope it will be a great success, as it has been in previous years. Are you not going to Woods Hole this summer? I t is so lovely and attractive.

 

With kindest regards to you and Mrs. Cowdry.

 

                                                                        Yours sincerely,

 

                                                                       S.C. Roy

Dr. E. V. Cowdry,
Department of Medicine,
Washington University,
St. Louis, Mo.U.S.A.[1]

 

Cancer Research with E.V. Cowdry at Washington University School of Medicine

This letter from Calcutta with its appeal for a research fellowship for Mrs. Dr. Hemprova P. Ghosh (Figure 1) found a sympathetic ear in Edmond Vincent Cowdry.  A scan of the original letter is Figure 2. This letter and much more of her story is documented in a correspondence file on Fellows and Researchers created by the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. It contains the letters Dr. Cowdry wrote to obtain funds for her living expenses in 1950.  Funding was hard to obtain in 1950 for cancer research, but Cowdry was persistent. W.H. Danforth of the Danforth Foundation wrote back personally to fund her first 6 month living expenses. And Mrs. Dr. H.P. Ghosh arrived ready to work as a fellow in cancer research in February 1951.[2]  

 

E.V. Cowdry was a cytologist who came to Washington University in St. Louis in 1928 to co-chair the Anatomy Department and head the Cytology Program.  Later in 1939, he became director of research at Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital, an independent hospital which he guided toward eventual integration with Washington University Department of Medicine [3] with affiliation in 1952.  In 1941, Dr. Cowdry was chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University. By 1948, Cowdry transferred all basic cancer research at the Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital to Washington University. [4]  

 

E.V. Cowdry, with Adele B. Croninger and Valentina Suntzeff, 1950s VC137262 Then in October 1950, a new Cancer Research building opened at Washington University.  The four story structure funded in part by theFigure 4: Virginia Minnich and Carl V. Moore at the microscope, 1968, VC039021 federal government still stands between the North and the South Building on Euclid.  With Cowdry as her mentor for 1951-1952, Dr. Ghosh spent a lot of time in Cowdry’s Wernse Cancer Research lab on the fourth floor.  She had many other likeminded people to work with as the second and third floor of the new cancer research building held other cancer research facilities for cancer researchers in other departments.[5] Some cancer researchers were women, like Adele Croninger and Valentina Suntzeff  of Pathology who are pictured with E.V. Cowdry in Figure 2.[6] At some point she got to know Carl V. Moore and Virginia Minnich who were the hematologists pictured in Figure 4. [7]

 

She and Dr. Cowdry and she wrote papers and reports on her cytological study “The role of binucleated epidermal cells in experimental carcinogenesis produced in mice.”  Her file also contains more letters from Cowdry to fund a longer stay for more cancer research.  William Danforth gave her additional funds for an additional six months of research and she received funds from the Anna Fuller Fund until August 1952. Letters to and from Cowdry reveal that he arranged for Ghosh's summer trip in 1952  the  Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine to learn more techniques in cancer research. 

Residency and Teaching in Surgical Pathology at Washington University and City Hospital, St. Louis

Lauren Ackerman of Surgical pathology came through with a residency in pathology at City Hospital and this residency continued for a total of three years. He was her Figure 5: Hemprova [P. Ghosh] to L. Ackermann, 16 July [1952], Box 8, Folder 2, mentor from September 1952. She wrote to him from Bar Harbor and the letter is Figure 5.  From Lauren Ackerman, Dr. H.P. Ghosh learned tumor diagnosis and gross pathology which complemented her cytological studies with Dr. Cowdry. [8] 

 

She was instructor in surgical pathology in the surgery department of the School of Medicine From 1956-1959.  The identification photos in Figure 1 and 6 were taken in 1959 shortly before she left the university.

Career in Texas

Figure 6: Dr. Hemprova P. Ghosh, Identification photo, 4-29-1959.  VC246-59-3118From 1959-1965  she accepted a post as  chief of laboratory services at the VA Hospital , McKinney, Texas from 1959-1965.  From 1960-1968, she was clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas.[9]  It was there she met her second husband, Dr. Hendley A. McDonald and they married in 1960 in Dallas. In February 1961 Carl V. Moore gave a grand rounds at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas where she taught and they met again.  Figures 2 and 3, the correspondence between Dr. Hemprova McDonald and C.V. Moore in 1961 was concerning the grand rounds. She Figure 7: Hemprova G. McDonald to C.V. Moore, 6 February 1961, Box 15, Folder 21brings him up to date on life and career since leaving Washington University In her letter (Figure 2.[10]

She founded and became director of the Diagnostic and Cell Research institute in Waco Texas beginning in 1965.  She held two other positions in Waco, Texas starting in 1966: consulting Figure 8: Carl V. Moore to H. G. McDonald, 14 February 1961, Box 15, Folder 215pathologist at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center and Providence Hospital.  She was a diplomate of the American Board of Pathologic Anatomy.[11]  She contributed thirty-three original scientific articles to professional Journals. She also wrote four books: New Concepts in Blood Formation and Cell Generation in Malignant and Benign Tissues, Volumes I-IV. She died in 2014[12]

 

 

 

 

Footnotes

[1] [Letter from S.C. Roy to C.V. Cowdry concerning Dr. Hemprova Ghosh, June 20, 1950, Subgroup 2, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 8], Anatomy and Neurobiology Department Records, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine

[2] Ghosh, H. P. (Mrs.), India, 1951-1954. Subgroup 2, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 8], Anatomy and Neurobiology Department Records, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine

[3] Biographical /Historical Note, Finding aid, E.V. Cowdry Papers,  Bernard Becker Medical Library Archiveshttp://http://beckerarchives.wustl.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=8490

[4] History [Chronology, St. Louis cancer care], 1896-2005, Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine. http://www.siteman.wustl.edu/ContentPage.aspx?id=41

[5] “Cancer Research Building occupied during October,” Medical Alumni Quarterly 14, page 19 (October 1950). Copy in VF8080 [Wernse Cancer Research Lab, WUSM], Vertical File Collection, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.

[6] E.V. Cowdry, Director of the Wernse Laboratory of Cancer Research with Adele B. Croninger, and Valentina Suntzeff, 1950s VC137262, E.V. Cowdry Photographs (VC137), Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.

[7] Virginia Minnich and Carl V. Moore at the microscope, 1968, VC039021, Carl V. Moore Photographs (VC039), Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.

[8] Ghosh, H. P. (Mrs.), India, 1951-1954. Subgroup 2, Series 1, Box 2, Folder 8], Anatomy and Neurobiology Department Records, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine. Especially letter from Hemprova Ghosh to Dr. K.C. K. Raja, April 23, 1952.

[9] Who's who of American women, 1979-1980, 11th ed. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who,[©1979], page 543

[10] Hemprova G. McDonald to C.V. Moore, 6 February 1961 & Carl.V. Moore to Hemprova G. McDonald, 14 February 1961,  Box 15, Folder 215, Carl V. Moore Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.

[11] Who's who in the world, 1989-1990, 11th ed. Wilmette, Ill: Marquis Who's Who,[©1988], page 751.

[12] Obituary, Hemprova G. MCDonald, February 24, 1918-October 19, 2014. Viewed: 15 April 2015 http://www.wilkirsonhatchbailey.com/obituary/Hemprova-G.-McDonald/Waco-TX/1443753

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