(1871 - 1953.) Florence Rena Sabin was born in the Colorado mining town of Central City. Her father, George Kimball Sabin, had aspired to medical study, but ended up as an engineer instead. Her mother, Serena (nee Miner) died around 1878. After that, Florence's father placed her and her sister Mary in boarding school, or left her with relatives in Illinois and Vermont. In 1889, Florence entered Smith College, where she earned her B.S. degree in 1893. In 1896 she entered Johns Hopkins in pursuit of a medical degree, an educational path severely restricted for women of the time.

After graduation, Florence was accepted as an intern in Johns Hopkins Hospital. In school and at Johns Hopkins, she was involved in pioneering research of the medulla, the lymphatic system, embryology, and immune response to tuberculosis. In 1924 she received a research grant from the National Tuberculosis Association, and achieved presidency of the American Association of Anatomists. In 1925, she was offered a prestigious position in the Rockefeller Institute, which brought her to New York City. Here, she became the first woman awarded membership in the National Academy of Sciences. At the Institute, she developed a program of tuberculosis immunology research that spanned pharmaceutical companies, laboratories and educational institutions in both private and public sectors, across the nation. This distributed effort was a something of a radical departure from the standard approach, which was to establish a monolithic research institute.

Dr. Sabin received numerous honorary degrees and awards throughout her life, for her achievements in the feminist cause, medicine, and education. She gave widely of her expertise and administrative ability, in professional associations and government-appointed offices, benefiting public health, education, research, and the disabled. On top of her research and administrative careers, she found time to read widely, entertain as an exceptional hostess, appreciate the arts (particularly music), and follow the Brooklyn Dodgers. A leader in so many fights, on so many fronts, to better the quality of life, Florence Sabin stands as a true American heroine. A bronze statue of her likeness stands in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

"The Prohibition law, written for weaklings and derelicts, has divided the nation, like Gaul, into three parts - wets, drys, and hypocrites."
   -speech, February 9, 1931

Florence Sabin is unrelated to Albert Sabin, who developed the live polio vaccine.

main source: National Academy Press web site, "Biographical Memoirs", article by Philip D. McMaster and Michael Heidelberger, at www.nap.edu/html/biomems/fsabin.html

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