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Women at work at Washington University Medical School: Perihan Cambel, 1948

Figure 1, Perihan Cambel at work in a laboratory of the Washington University

Recently in our archives, I discovered a picture of a woman at work in a laboratory of the Washington University Medical School in 1948.  Figure 1 at right is that photo.1  Dr. Perihan Cambel was a Turkish pathologist who led the effort to eradicate cancer in Turkey beginning in 1947. 6  When the photo was taken, Dr. Perihan Cambel was research fellow at the Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital and Special Cancer Research Fellow at the Anatomy Department at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis.3 She did experiments on skin cancer while in St. Louis.4 Carcinogenesis and biology of mast cells were the the main topics that she was interested in.11

By 1948, Dr. Campel had an impressive resume and 48 journal articles.2  She was born in Istanbul in 1909 to Hasan Cemil and Remziye.  She graduated from the American College for Girls in Istanbul in 1928 and earned her M.D. from the Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University in 1934.3 Dr. Cambel did her pathology training at the Pathology Department of the University under Prof. Phillip Schwartz, head of Pathological Anatomy.11

First, she worked from 1934 to 1936 as Assistant in Pathological Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul.  Then she labored from 1937 to 1938 as Assistant for Internal Diseases at the Clinic, Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul.  From 1938-1945 she was Pathologist at Gureba Hospital, Istanbul and later she served from 1945 to 1948 as Pathologist for Numune Hospital, Ankara.3

While she was pathologist at Numune Hospital in 1947, she became General Secretary of the Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control (or the War against Cancer).  She and Irfan Titiz were founders of this organization whose purpose was "enlightening the nation on cancer, detecting people with cancer and handling their treatment through better organized and equipped institutions." The Turkish association's mission was “leading the case of cancer through organized, rational and scientific ways and protecting this case from unscientific and unorganized treatments.”6  

Fatma Perihan CaFigure 2, Letter from Irfan Titiz with photo of Perihan Cambel, August 13, 1947mbel came to St. Louis in 1947 as a representative of the Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control at the Fourth International Cancer Research Congress. She asked for funding for herself and Dr. Tevfik Berkman, director of the Instanbul Radiology Institute, explaining the postwar situation in Turkey as follows. "It would not be unimportant that we Turkish people tell about our experiences and take part in the discussions, as we have all kinds of cancer in our country without being able to state the same causative agents as in Middle Europe for instance.  I have been directing the pathology laboratory of the Gureba Hospital in Instanbul (750 beds) independently for eight and half years, so I have a small experience, and I would like to make one or two communications if you can put me on the program."  She and Dr. Berkman did receive funding. 9

Figure 3, Mrs. Symeonidis, Greece; Perihan Cambel and Talia Bali, TurkeyFigure 2 shows her identification photo sent by Irfan Sitiz in a letter to E.V. Cowdry.8  Figure 3 shows her sitting between two other women at the Congress, Dr. Talia Bali of Turkey at right, and Mrs. Symeonidis of Athens, Greece at left.5   E.V. Cowdry, who was president of the congress and Professor of Anatomy at Washington University Medical School, found funds for her to come to the International Congress in 1947. Cowdry also invited her to work as research fellow in Anatomy Department at Washington University for one year in 1948-1949.2 

 From 1949 to 1952 she was Professor of Cancer Research at the Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of Florida, Gainesville.  In 1952 she returned to her post as chief of the Pathology department at Numune Hospital in Ankara in Turkey and remained there until 1963.3  She worked hard to build a library and research facility for cancer research as secretary-general for the Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control in 1955. She corresponded with Dr. Cowdry and the Anatomy Department until 1961.10

Footnotes

1. VC410 Dr. Perihan Cambel [at work in a laboratory of the Washington University Medical School, 1948], Single Portrait Photographs, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
2. “Dr. Perihan Cambel: list of Publications,” 1948 in E. V. Cowdry Papers FC/FC008, Series 8: General correspondence, 1941-1950. Box 45 Folder 63: Cambel, Fatma Perihan, 1948-1949.
3. “Cambel, Perihan, Prof., Dr.” Oktay, Afsin, Who’s Who in Turkey 1960, Ankara 1959 in World Biographical Information System (WBIS).
4. CAMBEL, P.  “Fluorescence studies of carcinogens in the rat skin.” Cancer Res. 1951 May; 11(5):370-5. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/11/5/370.full.pdf+html 

5. VC137232 Fourth International Cancer Research Congress, St. Louis. (Left to right) Mrs. Symeonidis of Athens, Greece; Dr. Perihan Cambel of Turkey; and Dr. Talia Bali of Turkey.  E.V. Cowdry Photographs (VC137), Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine. http://beckerimages.wustl.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15793coll3/id/1859/rec/1
6. Terzioglu, Aysecan, “Experiencing and Explaining Cancer: A Critical Study of Turkish Modernity ... “ Dissertation,  Anthropology, The City University of New York, 2008, page 115 on Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=Y5mmH0A4U5oC&lpg=PP1&dq=inauthor%3A%22Aysecan%20Terzioglu%22&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
7. “Cambel, Perihan,”  R.C. ve A.C.G. [American College for Girls] 'den Kim Kimdir? Istanbul, 1970 in World Biographical Information System (WBIS).
8.“Letter from Perihan Cambel to W.U. Gardner, undated, Box 78, Folder 18,  E. V. Cowdry Papers,  Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
9.“Letter from Irfan Titiz to E. V. Cowdry, August 13, 1947, Box 78, Folder 18,  E. V. Cowdry Papers,  Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
10.Cambel, Perihan, Fellow, 1953-1959 [1960], Sub-Group 2: Series 1: Fellows and Researchers. 1948-1961. Box 1, Folder 11,  Anatomy and Neurobiology Department Records,  Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
11. Erdogan S, Tuncer I, Ergin M. Pathology in Turkey: A historical survey. Aegean Pathology Journal 2, 123–126, 2005. http://www.epd.org.tr/pdf/38.pdf

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