Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

May 13, 2020

Trailblazers, part 2

By Advancing the Science contributor

In the last Trailblazers article, we shared the stories of six women physicians and scientists appointed to the staff at Mayo Clinic between 1889 and 1926. These women stand out for their passion and leadership in medicine at a time when there were very few women in the field.

These early women in medicine prepared the way for more trailblazers in the decades that followed. Join us as we continue the celebration by sharing the stories of six women physicians and scientists who forged careers for themselves at Mayo Clinic from 1932 to 1956.

Today Mayo Clinic has 10,054 living female alumni (physicians and scientists) around the world.

black and white portrait
Julia Herrick, Ph.D.

Julia Herrick, Ph.D.

Dr. Herrick received a Ph.D. in biophysics at Mayo Clinic in 1932. Early in her career, she was interested in studying and measuring blood flow in mammalian blood vessels. Her studies led to important modifications to the Rein thermostromuhr. During World War II, she joined the Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories to work on radio direction finding. She returned to Mayo Clinic in 1946 to research the biologic effects of microwaves and ultrasound, physiologic thermometry, and the circulation of blood. Later in her career, she served as chair of the Institute of Radio Engineers Professional Groups on Medical Electronics and Ultrasonics Engineering.


Grace Roth, Ph.D.

Grace Roth, Ph.D.

In 1936, Dr. Roth became the first woman born in Rochester, Minnesota, to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota for work done at Mayo Clinic. She was appointed to the Mayo Clinic staff in 1937 as a consultant in physiology and taught at the graduate school. She is widely known for her research on the functional aspects of heart and blood vessels and clinical investigative physiology. She served as president of the Minnesota Heart Association in 1953 and, later, served as chair of the American Heart Association Section on Circulation.


Jane Hodgson, M.D.

Jane Hodgson, M.D.

Dr. Hodgson devoted a 50-year career to women's reproductive health care. She attended Carleton College and the University of Minnesota and trained at Mayo Clinic, graduating in 1944. She co-founded the Duluth Women's Health Center and was a founding fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1994, she received the National Reproductive Health Award from the American Medical Women's Association and, in 1995, she received the Margaret Sanger Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was one of the first physicians inducted into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame in 2001.


Eva Gilbertson, M.D.

Eva Gilbertson, M.D.

In 1946, Dr. Gilbertson was the first woman to complete a radiology residency program at Mayo Clinic and, later, was the first woman to open a radiology practice in Seattle, Washington. She was a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Radiological Society. She told Mayo Magazine in 2007 that she hoped her early efforts helped pave the way for younger generations of women in medicine.


Sarah Luse, M.D.

Sarah Luse, M.D.

Dr. Luse completed a residency in neuropathology at Mayo Clinic in 1946. She made significant contributions to the fields of neuropathology, clinical neurology and neurosurgery. She was an internationally known expert on submicroscopic changes in tissues caused by disease. Her research led to the discovery that a particular kind of brain cell was damaged my multiple sclerosis. Dr. Luse left Mayo Clinic in 1954 for an American Cancer Society fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a decade later, she became the first women to be named to an administrative post there. From 1967 to her death in 1971, she was a professor of anatomy at Columbia University College of Physicians and Scientists in New York City.


Virginia Hartridge, M.D.

Virginia Hartridge, M.D.

Dr. Hartridge served as education director of the Mayo Clinic School of Nurse Anesthesia from 1956 to 1964, and director from 1964 to 1976. For more than 20 years she worked to advance the training of nurse anesthetists at Mayo Clinic. Under her direction, the school was accredited by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists' Council on Accreditation. Dr. Hartridge is known for developing and popularizing a technique of balanced anesthesia for cesarean section, which received widespread national acceptance and, for years, remained the preferred anesthetic technique for that operation.


This article was originally published in Alumni Magazine, Issue 1, 2020.

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  • If you enjoyed this article, you might want to subscribe for regular updates.
  • If you want to share this story with friends, social media links are at the top of the article.
  • And if you want to see other recent stories on the blog, the index page is a great place to start.

Tags: anesthesiology, cardiology, Eva Gilbertson, Grace Roth, Jane Hodgson, Julia Herrick, multiple sclerosis, neurology, neurosurgery, People, physiology, radiology, republished, Sarah Luse, Virginia Hartridge, women's health

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