Diversity & Inclusion

Diverse Innovators in Medicine Shine at New Exhibit

Freshly installed at the Rochester General College of Health Careers, a new exhibit focuses on the medical achievements of people of color.

Apr. 28, 2022 3   min read

Located in the lobby at the Rochester General College of Health Careers, a new exhibit titled Diverse Innovators in Medicine illuminates the groundbreaking discoveries and innovations in medicine by people of color in the United States.

The exhibit will be on display from April through June, courtesy of a partnership between Rochester Regional Health Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Rochester Regional Health Archives.

Making breakthroughs

This display honors the lives and efforts of four medical providers whose work has touched countless lives, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Dr. Patricia Bath

Working as an ophthalmologist, Dr. Bath spent her time operating on blind patients for free and supporting worldwide initiatives to prevent blindness using anti-infection eye drops and vaccinations.

But perhaps her longest-enduring legacy is the invention of a device that improved cataract surgery called the Laserphaco Probe. In a revolutionary manner, the device quickly and painlessly dissolves the cataract with a laser, cleans the eye, and allows for the insertion of a new lens. Its cost-effective nature has led to widespread use around the world and the restoration of sight for many individuals previously deemed blind.

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller

As the first African-American psychiatrist, Dr. Fuller worked as a research assistant to Alois Alzheimer, publishing the first comprehensive review of Alzheimer’s disease. His research was also instrumental in recognizing that amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles play an important role as hallmarks of the disease.

Through Dr. Fuller’s work with neurological disorders, he helped spread awareness of Alzheimer’s as a particular disease through the English-speaking world – including describing the ninth recorded case of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal

A powerhouse of autoimmune disease research, Dr. Wong-Staal was a pioneering figure in how scientists and the public understand HIV.

Dr. Wong-Staal became the first person to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes. This was a major step in showing that HIV caused AIDS – and ultimately was instrumental in blood tests being developed for HIV.

After establishing the Center for AIDS Research, Dr. Wong-Staal continued to explore therapeutic approaches to thwarting HIV, leading to treatments for HIV/AIDS patients who are afflicted with lesions related to the virus. Later in life, her experience researching HIV/AIDS helped scientists better understand – and develop treatments for – hepatitis C.

Dr. Charles Richard Drew

Known as the “Father of the Blood Bank”, Dr. Drew was the first African American to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.

Dr. Drew’s work led to the discovery that plasma could be preserved by separating out the liquid from the blood cells. His work as part of the Blood for Britain project during World War II helped preserve blood being sent from the U.S. to aid wounded British soldiers and civilians. He was also responsible for creating the bloodmobile – which makes getting donations easier.

Following all of his efforts, Dr. Drew was named director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank, but ultimately resigned when they segregated blood along racial lines.

The Rochester Regional Health College of Health Careers is located on Skyview Centre Parkway in Irondequoit.

NEXT STEPS Rochester General College of Health Careers

Located on Skyview Centre Parkway in Irondequoit, the College of Health Careers (COHC) is a space for educating students enrolled in health career related programs. The college vision is to be a community leader in providing healthcare education through creative pathways and partnerships, with a focus on student success to promote a diverse workforce.

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