Marie Maynard Daly

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Marie Maynard Daly
Marie Maynard Daly.jpg
Born (1921-04-16)April 16, 1921
Corona, Queens, New York City
Died October 28, 2003(2003-10-28) (aged 82)
New York City
Residence New York City
Other names Marie Maynard Daly Clark
Citizenship American
Alma mater
Spouse(s) Vincent Clark
Scientific career
Fields Biochemistry
Thesis A Study of the Products Formed by the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch[1] (1947)
Doctoral advisor Mary Letitia Caldwell

Marie Maynard Daly (April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003) was an American biochemist. She was the first Black 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.[2] They lived in New York City, and Marie was born and raised in Corona, Queens.[3] 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.[4]

Daly’s interest in science was also influenced by her father, who had attended Cornell University with intentions of becoming a chemist, but had been unable to complete his education due to a lack of funds.[5] His daughter continued her father’s legacy by majoring in chemistry. Many years later, she started a Queens College scholarship fund in his honor to assist minority students majoring in chemistry or physics.[4]


Daly attended Hunter College High School, a laboratory high school for girls run by Hunter College faculty,[6] where she was also encouraged to pursue chemistry. She then enrolled in Queens College, a small, fairly new school in Flushing, New York. She lived at home to save money and graduated from Queens College with her bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1942.[4] Upon graduation, she was named a Queens College Scholar,[7] an honor that is given to the top 2.5% of the graduating class.[6]

Labor shortages and the need for scientists to support the war effort enabled Daly to garner fellowships to study at New York University and Columbia University for her master’s and Ph.D. degrees, respectively[6].

Daly worked as a laboratory assistant at Queens College while studying at New York University for her master's degree in chemistry, which she completed in 1943. She then became a chemistry tutor at Queens College and 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 Formed By the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1947.[5][1][4]

Bold text==Career==

daly worked as a physical science instructor at Howard University, from 1947 to 1948 while simultaneously conducting research under the direction of Herman 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 radiolabeled amino acid glycine, she was able to measure how protein metabolism changed under feeding and fasting conditions in mice. This allowed her to monitor the activity of the cytoplasm as the radiolabeled glycine was taken up into the cell nucleus.[5]

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.[5]

Daly began working in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1955. In collaboration with Dr. Quentin B. Deming, she studied the metabolism of the arterial wall and relationships between that and aging, hypertension and atherosclerosis.[5]

She continued this work as an assistant professor of biochemistry and of medicine at 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.[5]

Daly also served as an investigator for the American Heart Association; she was especially interested in how hypertension affects the circulatory system. While teaching at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, she continued research on arteries and the effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs.[8]

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.[5]

She was designated as a career scientist by the Health Research Council of the City of New York. Daly retired in 1986 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and in 1988 established a scholarship for African American chemistry and physics majors at Queens College in memory of her father.[5] In 1999, she was recognized by the National Technical Association as one of the top 50 women in Science, Engineering and Technology.[9]

On February 26, 2016, the Founding Principal of the new elementary school P.S.360Q, Mr. R. Emmanuel-Cooke, announced that the school would be named "The Dr. Marie M. Daly Academy of Excellence" in honor of the Queens resident.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b Brown, Mitchell C. (1996). "Marie Maynard Daly: Biochemist". The Faces of Science: African-Americans in the Sciences. 
  2. ^ "Marie M. Daly". Biography. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  3. ^ Kessler, James; Kidd, J.S.; Kidd, Renee; Morin, Katherine A. (1996). Distinguished African-American Scientists of the 20th Century. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press. p. 57. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Marie Maynard Daily". Science History Institute. Retrieved 20 March 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Grinstein, Louise S.; Rose, R. K.; Rafailovich, M. H. (1993). Women in chemistry and physics: a biobibliographic sourcebook (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 149. ISBN 9780313273827. 
  6. ^ a b c 1934-, Brown, Jeannette E. (Jeannette Elizabeth), (2012). African American women chemists. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019974288X. OCLC 761692608. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Marie Maynard Daly: The First African-American PhD. in Chemistry". On the Shoulders of Giants. January 5, 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  8. ^ "Marie Maynard Daly, biochemist". The Valentina Project. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  9. ^ Irwin, Demetria (March 7, 2016). "[UNSUNG SHEROES] Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, a Trailblazer in Medical Research". EBONY. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "PS 360Q PTA The Dr. Marie M. Daly Academy of Excellence". PTBoard. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  11. ^ Bossing, Jan. "Marie M. Daly, first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry". AMAZING WOMEN. Retrieved May 31, 2016.