Marie Maynard Daly

Dr. Marie Maynard Daly

1921 -2003

Dr. Marie Maynard Daly was raised by a father who instilled a drive for education in his daughter because he was forced to abandon his own educational dreams due to a lack of funds. Although the family was poor, Marie paid her tuition at Queens College by tutoring chemistry students and saved money by living at home. After graduating with honors, she got her M.S. degree at New York University which she completed in one year.  She was aided by the advent of WWII when working on her Ph.D. in 1944 through 1947 at Columbia‚Äôs chemistry department, as women were needed to fill positions left open after men joined the war effort.

Daly is best known for being the first African American woman to receive a Ph. D. in chemistry in the United States. In her research, she found a strong correlation between high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in the blood. This was a groundbreaking discovery in the early 1950s when it was found that these were leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke. This revelation served as a foundation for future research into the causes of atherosclerosis and other high blood pressure-related diseases.

In the 1950s, research of hers illustrated how protein production requires RNA. The study paper produced, “The role of ribonucleoprotein in protein synthesis”, was cited by Dr. James Watson who, with Dr. Crick, won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their DNA findings. He said her research paper contributed to their work.

Giving back to her community, Marie Daly started a scholarship fund to assist minority students majoring in physical sciences.