Washington Update

FASEB Celebrates 45 Years of Black Achievements

By: Debra L. Bouyer
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

This year marks the 45th anniversary of Black History Month where President Gerald Ford called upon our nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Recognizing the impact of Black American contributions to society, however, precedes this proclamation. In 1915, author and journalist Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans and other people of African descent. What started as a week-long celebration grew into a month in February to coincide with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and activist Frederick Douglass.

Throughout our nation’s history, there are countless examples of Black Americans who have made significant contributions to science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine. The following scientists are a mere sample of those who have fortified their place in U.S. history:

  • Ernest Everett Just, PhD (1883-1941), an American biologist, made significant contributions to biology through his pioneering research in cell physiology, embryonic development, and fertilization.
  • Ruth Ella Moore, PhD (1903-1994), the first Black woman to earn a PhD in the natural sciences, made significant contributions in the study of blood types, immunology, and the reaction of specific pathogens to different classes of antibiotics.
  • Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD, a NIH scientist, played a key role with the development of the Moderna vaccine which is currently being administered to help protect millions of lives from the global coronavirus pandemic.

FASEB recognizes there are countless additional examples to share of the contributions scientists from underrepresented backgrounds have made—beyond Black History Month in February. In our continued effort to drive diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in the biomedical research community, FASEB is highlighting our member societies’ scientists through the power of storytelling throughout the year. If you are interested in sharing your story, email Debbie Bouyer.