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Sabin, Florence (Rena)

health public system johns

[ say bin] (1871–1953) US anatomist and histologist: ensured the passage of vital public health legislation.

Florence Sabin’s mother died when she was 4 and she was brought up largely by her uncle and grandparents. She went to Smith College and gained a BS degree in 1893, taught for 3 years to save money, then entered Johns Hopkins Medical School and received the MD degree in 1900. After a year’s internship she became the school’s first woman faculty member (1902) as an assistant in anatomy. She was appointed professor of histology in 1917, and had a long association with Johns Hopkins. She worked on the lymphatic system, an area at the time little understood. Her findings were that the lymphatic channels represented a one-way system, closed at their collecting ends, where the fluids entered by seepage, and that they arose from preexisting veins; a view at first highly controversial but proved correct. She also studied the origin of blood vessels and plasma and the development of blood cells in embryos. In 1925 Sabin moved to the Rockefeller Institute in New York where she remained until her retirement in 1938. Her research there was a study of tuberculosis and the development of immunity to it.

Retiring from research in 1938, she returned to her home in Denver and in 1944 became chairman of a public health subcommittee, and an energetic supporter of public health reforms.

She was the first woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the USA in 1925.

Sabine, Wallace Clement [next] [back] Sabin, Albert (Bruce)

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