For the third week of our Black History Month series, we learned about Loney Gordon who is one of the people responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people!
Born in 1915 in Arkansas, Loney Gordon earned a Bachelors degree in Home Economics and Chemistry from Michigan State College in 1939. Wanting to be a Dietician, she faced years of rejection as she was told time and again, white chefs would not want to take orders from a black dietician.
In 1944, she began working at the Michigans Department of Health Laboratory Department where she met and began working for the doctors Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering.
At the time, the bacteria Bordetella pertussis (cause for Whooping Cough) was at such an epidemic, it was killing 100's of children a year and Michigan was suffering particularly hard.
Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering headed a group charged with finding a vaccine for Whooping Cough but they needed a strain of the bacteria virulent enough to create a vaccine that would save the lives of a generation of children.
Loney Gordon's research found that sheep's blood was the key to incubating the bacteria and led to her finding an organism that was several times stronger than any previously found. Her research was a key component in the development of a vaccine much more effective than any that had been used to this point saving thousands of lives.
Loney Gordon continued to work in Laboratory Medicine until her retirement in 1978. She passed away in 1999 but was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2000. - 2 hours ago