Pearl Kendrick

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Pearl Kendrick
Pearl Kendrick.jpg
Born Pearl Louella
August 24, 1890
Wheaton, Illinois
Died October 8, 1980(1980-10-08) (aged 90)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Fields Bacteriology, Public Health
Alma mater Syracuse University
Johns Hopkins University

Pearl Louella Kendrick (August 24, 1890 – October 8, 1980) was an American bacteriologist. Kendrick is known for co-developing the first vaccine for whooping cough. She also contributed to the promotion of international vaccine standards.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Pearl Louella was born on August 24, 1890 in Wheaton, Illinois, US. Her father was a preacher. She graduated from high school in 1908 and attended Greenville College for a year before transferring to Syracuse University. In 1914, she received her B.S. from Syracuse.[2] Kendrick graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1934.[1]


After graduation, Kendrick was inspired to research whooping cough (pertussis) based on the statistical data of the time: the disease killed an average of 6,000 people in the United States, with the majority (95%) being children. She moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and worked at the Western Michigan Branch Laboratory of the Michigan Department of Health. It was there that she met Grace Eldering. Eldering was located in Lansing and worked at the State Department of Health.[1]

Kendrick and Eldering headed the vaccine project through program development, testing, and the eventual inoculation of children with the pertussis vaccine.[3][4] The vaccine was a success. Michigan started distributing the vaccines in 1940 and deaths from whooping cough declined.[1][5] Their work contributed significantly [6] to the development of cough plate diagnostics.[7] The collaborative nature of their work within the bacteriological research community and their partnerships with the Grand Rapids public health community are recognized as an important contribution to vaccine research and public health.[8]

When the pertussis vaccine was in the primary phase of development, the American-made vaccine was very effective, while the locally-made vaccine in England seemed to have no protection effect. At that time Kendrick, along with others, was invited to be a member of Whooping Cough Immunization Committee of the Medical Research Council of Great Britain to help them with vaccine development method.

Later life and death[edit]

In 1951, Kendrick retired from the Michigan Department of Public Health. After retiring, she became a faculty member at the University of Michigan's Department of Epidemiology. She retired, from the University, in 1960. Kendrick served as president of the Michigan American Society for Microbiology. She died on October 8, 1980, in Grand Rapids.[1]


Kendrick was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1983.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Pearl Kendrick". Michigan Women's Historical Center & Hall of Fame. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Mason, Karen M. "Finding Aid for Pearl L. Kendrick Papers, 1888-1979". University of Michigan: Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Shapiro-Shapin, Carolyn G. (August 2010). "Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering, and the Pertussis Vaccine". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 16 (8): 1273–1278. PMC 3298325Freely accessible. PMID 20678322. doi:10.3201/eid1608.100288. 
  4. ^ Kendrick P, Eldering G. "Progress Report on Pertussis Immunization". Am J Public Health Nations Health. 26: 8–12. PMC 1562571Freely accessible. PMID 18014359. doi:10.2105/ajph.26.1.8. 
  5. ^ Pediatric Research - Childhood Vaccine Development: An Overview
  6. ^ "Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering,and the Pertussis Vaccine" (PDF). Center for Disease Control, Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 16, No. 8, August 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Kendrick P, Eldering G. "Cough Plate Examinations for B. Pertussis" (PDF). American Journal of Public Health. 24 (4): 309–18. PMC 1558621Freely accessible. PMID 18013967. doi:10.2105/ajph.24.4.309. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  8. ^ ""A Whole Community Working Together": Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering, and the Grand Rapids Pertussis Trials, 1932-1939". Michigan Historical Review Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring, 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 


  • O'Hern, Elizabeth Moot (1985). Profiles of Pioneer Women Scientists. Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books. ISBN 978-0-87491-811-3.