Dorothy Hansine Andersen

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Dorothy Hansine Andersen
Dorothy Hansine Andersen.jpg
Born May 15, 1901
Asheville, North Carolina
Died March 3, 1963(1963-03-03) (aged 61)
New York City
Known for Identifying cystic fibrosis
Medical career
Profession Physician
Institutions University of Rochester
Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Notable prizes E. Mead Johnson Award (1939) Elizabeth Blackwell Award (1952) National Women's Hall of Fame (2002)

Dorothy Hansine Andersen (May 15, 1901 – March 3, 1963) was an American pathologist and pediatrician who was the first person to identify cystic fibrosis and the first American physician to describe the disease.[1][2]

Early life

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Andersen was the only child of Hans Peter Andersen and Mary Louise Mason. Hans Peter Andersen died in 1914 when Dorothy was thirteen years old and after moving to Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, Mary Louise died six years later.[3] At the age of nineteen, Dorothy became fully responsible for her well-being and finances. She supported herself through college and in 1922 received a B.A. in chemistry and zoology from Mount Holyoke College. Andersen went on to attend Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and received her M.D. in 1926.[3] This is where she performed her research and wrote two papers in the Contributions to Embryology, describing the female reproductive system of a pig.[4]

Once she graduated from Johns Hopkins, Andersen served as a teaching assistant in anatomy at the Rochester School of Medicine.[3] A year later she became an intern for surgery at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. After completing her internship year, Andersen was denied a residency in general surgery at the hospital because she was a woman.[5] This drove Dorothy Hansine Andersen to focus on her research instead and in 1929, she began working at Columbia University’s College of Physician and Surgeons as an assistant in pathology. Later, she was asked to join the faculty as an instructor at Columbia Medical School.[3] Joined with Columbia University, Andersen began to work on her doctorate in medical science by studying endocrinology. Specifically, the influences of the endocrine glands on the onset and rate of sexual maturation in rats. By 1935, she received her doctorate from Columbia University and worked as a pathologist at Babies Hospital at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.[4] This is where Andersen remained for the rest of her medical career and eventually became the chief of pathology in 1952. The same year, Dorothy Hansine Andersen was awarded the Elizabeth Blackwell Award.[4]

Research and Career

During her research days, Andersen developed findings in the pathology of celiac disease, noting a distinct fibrosis which causes the malfunction of the pancreas in patients who had died of celiac disease.[3] This was published in the American Journal of Diseases of Children in 1938 where Andersen coined the term of the disorder "cystic fibrosis of the pancreas.”[4] She was awarded the E. Mead Johnson Award for her recognition on this disease.[6] In 1942, Andersen developed the first efficient diagnostic test for cystic fibrosis with Paul di Sant'Agnese (who also worked at Columbia University) at Babies Hospital.[3] In 1948, The American Academy of Pediatrics awarded Andersen the Borden Bronze Plaque for her successful work in “Determining the effectiveness of different antibiotics in relieving the respiratory-tract infections that were the main cause of death from cystic fibrosis.”[4] By 1958, Anderson was a full time professor at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. During this time in her career, Andersen wrote in the Journal of Chronic Diseases that her research findings corresponded to cystic fibrosis being a recessively inherited disease that was once thought to be fatal in early infancy, however now many patients were surviving until early adulthood.[3] It was not until the early 1980s, where researchers could determine the actual cause of cystic fibrosis, being - a single mutation causing incomplete synthesis of a transmembrane protein, resulting in thick, clogging secretions mainly in the pancreas and respiratory tract.[3]

Towards the end of her career, Andersen had developed lung cancer from smoking and underwent surgery in 1962. Dorothy Hansine Andersen died at the age of sixty-one on March 3, 1963 in New York, New York.[7] After her death in 1963, she was honored with the Distinguished Service Medal at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.[8] In remembrance to her work on cystic fibrosis, Dorothy Hansine Andersen was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Alumnae Featured in the Exhibit Archived 2006-09-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b National Women's Hall of Fame
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Aydelotte, Allison (February 2000). "Dorothy Hansine Andersen". American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ a b c d e Clague, Stephanie (March 2014). "Spotlight Historical Profile Dorothy Hansine Andersen". The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2: 184–185.
  5. ^ Machol, Libby (1980). Notable American Women: The Modern Period. United States of America: Radcliffe College.
  6. ^ Andersen, D.H. (1938). "Cyst leiesic fibrosis of the pancreas and its relation to celiac disease". Am J Dis Child. 56: 344–399. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1938.01980140114013.
  7. ^ Machol, Libby (1993). Notable American Women: The Modern Period : a Biographical Dictionary, Volume 4. Cambridge, Mass [u.a.]: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 9780674627338.
  8. ^ "Dr. Dorothy Hansine Andersen". Changing the Face of Medicine. 3 June 2015.

Further reading

  • Shearer, Barbara; Shearer, Benjamin (1996). Notable women in the life sciences : a biographical dictionary (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313293023.
  • Windsor, Laura Lynn (2002). Women in medicine : an encyclopedia. Oxford: ABC-Clio. ISBN 9781576073926.

External links

  • Changing Face of Medicine Biography
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