I wanted to write a post about a female scientist and searched for a list of names and Myra Adele Logan jumped out at me. I guess I chose her because we share a name. I read her biography and she did some remarkable things.
Myra Adele Logan was born in 1908 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was the first African American woman doctor to perform surgery on a human heart. It was the ninth open-heart surgey performed in the twentieth century. She was a true humanitarian, putting the needs of others before her own and using her medical skills to serve the community.
She grew up to value education. Her mother was a noted activist in health care and the suffrage movement and she received a college education when many women could not and her father was a trustee and treasurer of the Tuskegee Institute. With such inspiration, it comes as no surprise that Dr. Logan excelled in school. She won the Walter Gray Crump Scholarship for Black Women. She attended medical school to become a doctor, and it was during her residency that she performed surgery in the emergency room of Harlem Hospital in New York City.
Dr. Logan was the first black woman to be elected as a member of the American College of Surgeons. She also helped the New York State Fair Employment Practices Committee and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
It was in 1943 that she performed her first open heart surgery. She became interested in the then-new antibiotic drugs, researching aureomycin and other drugs and publishing her results in Archives of Surgery and Journal of American Medical Surgery. In the 1960s, Dr. Logan began to work on breast cancer, developing a slower x-ray process that could detect more accurately differences inthe density of tissue and thus help discover tumors much earlier. Her research saved countless lives.
Dr. Logan was also committed to social issues and was a member of the New York State Committee on Discrimination. She was also active in Planned Parenthood as well as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and after her retirement in 1970 she served on the New York State Workmen’s Compensation Board. Her myriad medical and civic achievements led to her election to the American College of Surgeons.
On a personal note, Dr. Logan married the well known painter Charles Alston in 1943. The couple did not have any children. I believe that if they did, they would have taught them to value education just as Dr. Logan’s parents had. The couple devoted their lives to pursuing their professional interests. Dr. Logan was a music lover and a fine classical pianist. She also enjoyed the theater and reading.
On January 13, 1977, at the age of 68, Dr. Logan died of lung cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Her husband, Charles died a few months later.
Today we celebrate this amazing woman who was valedictorian of her class in 1927; earned her M.S. in psychology from Columbia University in New York and won a four-year scholarship to New York Medical College. She dedicated her life to medicine and making a difference in the community. She encouraged people to walk tall and proud and be whom they wanted to be. She helped to pave the way for other doctors who would come after her. She is an example of how important and useful education can be. It can open doors and lead to great opportunities. Her parents would have been very proud.
“The world would not be dictated by one race or gender.”Myra Adele Logan