Welcome this week’s WiSE Wednesday star, the woman you can thank for the endless number of TB tests you undergo before you start any job: Florence Seibert! Florence was born in Eastern, Pennsylvania in 1897, graduated at the top of her high school class, and attended (surprise!) Goucher College (recall Hattie and Lydia? there must have been something in the water). She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Yale in 1923. She then did post-doctoral work at the University of Chicago, alleviating complications of intravenous injections in patients. She went on to work on tuberculosis at the University of Pennsylvania with Esmond Long. She wanted to develop a reliable test for TB, as Long’s previous test proved unreliable due to impurities in the purification. In 1938, Florence purified a protein derivative of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, enabling the development of a reliable test for the fatal infection. Florence went on to win the Trudeau Medal from the American Tuberculosis Association in 1938, and the Francis P. Garvan Medal from the American Chemistry Society in 1942. She was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990. She died in Florida, of complications from childhood polio, in 1991.
In 1968, she published her autobiography, Pebbles on the Hill of a Scientist.