Mary Styles Harris

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Mary Styles Harris, Ph.D. (born June 26, 1949) is an American Biologist and Geneticist. Harris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1971 and a Ph.D. in genetics from Cornell University in 1975. Harris worked her way up from a postdoctoral position to being the president and genetics consultant of her own company, Harris & Associates, Ltd in Atlanta, Georgia.[1]

Early life[edit]

Harris was born in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A, June 26, 1949 to George and Margaret Styles. Margaret, had completed a degree in business administration at Tennessee State University.[2] George was a doctor, and it was his career that sparked Harris' early interest in science. George died when Harris was 9 years old. When Harris entered Miami Jackson High School she was one of the first African Americans to enroll.[2] In 1967, she graduated twelfth in her class of 350.[3]

At Lincoln University in Pennsylvania Harris was one of the first women to enroll. The male students were surprised to see Harris in their advanced algebra and organic chemistry classes. She spent most of her time with pre-med students, with the goal of attending medical school. Her father's colleagues reserved Harris a place at the University of Miami Medical School, but she did not accept it. She did not want to treat people, she wanted to do research.[3]

Harris graduated from Lincoln University in 1971, and then enrolled at Cornell University where she studied molecular genetics. Harris graduated with her doctorate in 1975. Harris then went on to do Postdoctoral study at Rutgers University.


  • Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Executive Director, 1977–79
  • Morehouse College, Assistant professor, 1978
  • Atlanta University, Assistant professor, 1980–81
  • Georgia Department of Human Resources, Director of genetic services
  • Harris and Associates, Founder, President, until 1987
  • BioTechnical Communications, President.
  • Founder, President, and Executive Producer of Journey to Wellness

Harris has dedicated her professional life to researching and providing health care information and education for the minority population. She has spent most of her professional career involved in the application and transfer of basic research to the health care field.

Harris has experience as a graduate and medical school teacher and she has had articles published in scientific and medical journals. Harris has directed a statewide screening program, been on grant review committees, and has provided private consulting for private laboratories and health organizations. Harris has produced television and radio shows, and she hosts a radio show, Journey To Wellness, and has developed a documentary, To My Sisters... A Gift For Life.

Harris' interest in preventive health care has led her to get involved in new born screening of Sickle-cell disease and sitting on the Atlanta board of the March of Dimes.



  1. ^ Mitchell. "Mary Styles Harris: Biologist, Geneticist". Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b The HistoryMakers. "Mary Styles Harris". Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kessler, James (1996). Distinguished African American scientists of the 20th century. Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press. pp. 392 pages. ISBN 0-89774-955-3. 


  • Krapp, Kristine M. (1999). Notable Black American scientists. Detroit: Gale Research. pp. 349 pages. ISBN 0-7876-2789-5. 
  • Henderson, Ashiya N (2001). Who's Who Among African Americans. Detroit: Gale Group. ISBN 0-7876-3635-5. 
  • American Men and Women and Science. 16th edition (New York: McGraw-Hill), p. 521.
  • Blacks in Science and Education. Vivian O. Sammons. (Washington, D.C.: Hemisphere Publishers), 1989. p. 112-113.

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