Willey Glover Denis

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Willey Glover Denis
Willey Glover Denis (1879-1929).jpg
BornFebruary 26, 1879
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedJanuary 9, 1929 (aged 49)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
H. Sophie Newcomb College
Bryn Mawr College
Scientific career
InstitutionsU.S. Department of Agriculture
University of Chicago
Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts General Hospital
Tulane University Medical School

Willey Glover Denis (February 26, 1879 – January 9, 1929) was an American biochemist and physiologist. She was noted particularly for her collaborations with Otto Folin, including studies of protein metabolism. She was a pioneer in the field of clinical chemistry and the measurement of protein in biological fluids (blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid. She also developed the first reliable method of assaying lead in body tissue and waste.


Denis earned her A.B. in 1899, majoring in modern languages at Tulane's H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College.[1] She attended Bryn Mawr College for two years, then returned to Tulane, where she was awarded an MA degree.[1] In 1905 she moved to the University of Chicago, pursuing a doctorate in organic chemistry. Her dissertation involved studies of the oxidation of aldehydes, ketones and alcohols.[1]

Dennis then taught at Grinnell College for a year, moving to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she worked until 1909.[1] After attempts to attend medical school that ended due to harassment, she moved to Harvard Medical School to become a research assistant for Otto Folin; she worked part-time with Folin for about a decade.[1]

In 1920, Denis was appointed to the faculty of Tulane Medical School, the first appointment of a woman to a major U.S. medical school.[1] She eventually headed the newly developed department of biological chemistry there.[1] She was also the first woman to be elected a member of the Massachusetts General Hospital staff.[2][3]

Denis died on January 9, 1929, aged 49, from complications from metastatic breast cancer.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Willey Glover Denis". Bryn Mawr College. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  2. ^ a b Meites S. (1985). "Willey Glover Denis (1879–1929), Pioneer Woman of Clinical Chemistry" (PDF). Clinical Chemistry. 31 (5): 774–778. PMID 3886198.
  3. ^ Willey Glover Denis (1879–1929), Smithsonian Institution Archives (accessed 2014-04-16).

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