Marie Maynard Daly

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Marie Maynard Daly
Marie Maynard Daly.jpg
Born (1921-04-16)April 16, 1921
Corona, Queens
Died October 28, 2003(2003-10-28) (aged 82)
New York City
Other names Marie Maynard Daly Clark
Residence New York
Citizenship United States
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions
Alma mater
Thesis A Study of the Products Formed by the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch (1947)
Doctoral advisor Mary Letitia Caldwell
Spouse Vincent Clark

Marie Maynard Daly (April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003) was an American biochemist. She was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry (awarded by Columbia University in 1947).

Early life[edit]

Daly's father, Ivan C. Daly, had immigrated from the British West Indies, found work as a postal clerk, and eventually married Helen Page of Washington, D.C. They lived in New York, and Daly was born and raised in Corona, Queens.[1] She often visited her maternal grandparents in Washington, where she was able to read about scientists and their achievements in her grandfather’s extensive library. She was especially impressed by Paul de Kruif’s The Microbe Hunters, a work which partially influenced her decision to become a scientist.

Daly’s father, who had attended Cornell University with intentions of becoming a chemist, was unable to complete his education due to a lack of funds. He left college and became a postal worker.[2] His daughter continued her father’s legacy by majoring in chemistry. Many years later, Daly started a Queens College scholarship fund in her father’s honor to assist minority students majoring in chemistry or physics.[3]

Education[edit]

After Daly graduated from all-girls Hunter College High School (where she was also encouraged to pursue chemistry), she enrolled in Queens College, a small, fairly new school in Flushing, New York. She lived at a home to save money, majored in chemistry, and graduated from Queens magna cum laude with her bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1942.[3] Upon graduation, she was also granted the honor of Queens College Scholar, an honor that is given to the top 2.5% of the graduating class.

Daly remained at Queens College for another year, working as a laboratory assistant while attending graduate school at New York University. In 1943, she completed her masters in Chemistry after just one year of work. She then enrolled in the doctoral program at Columbia University, where she was supervised by Dr. Mary L. Caldwell. Caldwell, who had a doctorate in nutrition, helped Daly discover how chemicals produced in the body contribute to food digestion. Daly completed a thesis entitled "A Study of the Products Fromed By the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch" to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1947.[2][3]

Career[edit]

Daly worked as a physical science instructor at Howard University from 1947 to 1948 while simultaneously conducting research under the direction of Herman R. Branson. After being awarded an American Cancer Society grant to support her postdoctoral research, she joined Dr. A. E. Mirsky at the Rockefeller Institute, where they studied the cell nucleus. While at the Rockefeller Institute, Daly studied the nuclei of tissues to determine the base compositions of the deoxypentose nucleic acids present. Additionally she explored the role of cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein in protein synthesis. Using labeled glycine, she was able to see how protein metabolism changed under feeding and fasting conditions in mice. This allowed her to monitor the activity of the cytoplasm as the labeled glycine was taken up into the cell nucleus.[2] In 1953, after Watson and Crick described the structure of DNA, Daly’s world changed significantly: suddenly, the cell nucleus research field was flooded with funding opportunities. Her work flourished in the new environment.[2]

Daly began working in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1955. In collaboration with Quentin B. Deming, she studied the effects that aging, hypertension and atherosclerosis had on the metabolism of arterial wall. She continued this work as an Assistant Professor of biochemistry and medicine in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University where she and Deming moved in 1960. She enjoyed teaching medical students and was dedicated to increasing the number of minority students enrolled in medical schools. In 1971 she was promoted to Associate Professor.[2]

Daly also served as an investigator for the American Heart Association; she was especially interested in how hypertension affects the circulatory system. She was a member of the prestigious Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences for two years. Additional fellowships that Daly received throughout her career include the American Cancer Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Sciences, and Council on Arteriosclerosis of the American Heart Association. She was designated as a career scientist by the Health Research Council of the City of New York. Daly retired from the Einstein College of Medicine in 1986, and in 1988 she established a scholarship for African American chemistry and physics majors at Queens College in memory of her father.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff. Marie Maynard Daly, Journal of Chemical Education. Accessed October 1, 2009. "One of three children, Marie Daly was born on April 16, 1921 in Corona, Queens, New York."
  2. ^ a b c d e f Grinstein, L. S.; Rose, R. K.; Rafailovich, M. H. Women in Chemistry and Physics Westport 1993.
  3. ^ a b c "Marie Maynard Daly". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 

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