Dr. Marie M. Daly made history in 1947 after obtaining her Ph.D in chemistry, the first Black woman to do so. Marie Maynard Daly was born April 16, 1921 in Queens, New York. Daly’s father had hopes of earning a degree in chemistry from Cornell University, but finances were scarce and he became a postal worker.
After attending Hunter College High School, Daly would go on to complete the education her father couldn’t, earning B.S. And M.S. Chemistry degrees from Queens College and New York University, respectively.
Daly then entered Columbia University’s doctoral program in 1944. After graduation, Daly began research that would become the hallmark of her career. She was especially interested in the inner works of the human body, and studied heart health, the circulatory system, and how nutrition played a factor.
This would eventually lead to Daly landing a grant from the American Cancer Society which then morphed into a seven-year research program at the Rockefeller Institute of Medicine. Daly studied the process of proteins within the body.
In 1955, Daly and Dr. Quentin B. Deming worked together at Columbia University before moving to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and they focused on the causes of heart attacks. The pair was able to link that high cholesterol gave way to clogged arteries, igniting interest in the study of how diet and certain foods contribute to heart health.
The trailblazing doctor also taught chemistry at the college and retired in 1986. She did not rest in her retirement, and was tireless champion for Black students entering graduate school and medical school program. In 1988, she created a scholarship program at Queens College in honor of her father.
Daly passed in 2003.