Advancements in DNA and four other ways women have shaped health care

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Nobel Prizes Awarded in Physics and Chemistry , for Work on Black Holes and Gene Editing.Three astrophysicists were awarded the Nobel for Physics: Reinhard Genzel, Andrea Ghez and Roger Penrose.Dr. Penrose received the prize for essentially proving that black holes exist using Einstein's theory of general relativity.Dr. Genzel and Dr. Ghez were awarded the prize for their work in classifying the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy as a supermassive black hole.Dr. Ghez is one of four women who have been awarded the prize in physics.Two scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna.This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of life, Goran K. Hansson, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, via 'The New York Times'.Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna are the sixth and seventh women to have been awarded the prize in chemistry.Their creation of a method in which to edit DNA "has utterly transformed the way we do research in basic science."

The advancements in modern medicine could not have been achieved if it were not for women’s contributions. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s look at a few of the ways the health care industry has been impacted by women.

Health care is one of the best industries for women, and women are better represented at all levels in health care compared to any other industry, according to research for Women in the Workplace, a collaborative initiative between Lean In and McKinsey.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 76% of all health care jobs are held by women. Additionally, there are no gender gaps between promotions in the health care industry, according to the management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.

There are many significant female figures in the health care industry. Here are five women whose contributions have changed the way we all view modern medicine.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)

Paving the way for the generations of women after her, Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to get earn her M.D. in the United States. She knew she wanted to pursue a degree in medicine when one of her dying friends reportedly said that she would’ve been better if she had a female doctor. She was rejected by every medical school except one: Geneva Medical School in Geneva, New York. She faced discrimination from her classmates and was ostracized. Later, she opened a medical college for women so other aspiring female physicians could have it easier than she did.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895)

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman to get her M.D. in the United States. As a pioneer in the medical industry, she worked with the Freedman’s Bureau where she tended to formerly enslaved people who often faced discrimination from white doctors and did not have access to medical care. She faced prejudice for both her gender and skin color, but never let it stop her passion to serve and help others.

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Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Responsible for discovering what we know as the double helix, Rosalind Franklin set the foundation for advancements in modern-day genetics and DNA. As a chemist and trailblazer, Franklin studied how DNA encodes genetic information and made huge strides in virology, where she studied and identified the structures of viruses like polio. While she wasn’t an awardee due to her death four years earlier, Franklin’s immense contributions to discovering the model of DNA led to a Nobel Prize for her fellow researchers.

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie researched radioactivity and discovered two elements, radium and polonium, on the periodic table. Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie’s study of radioactivity paved the way for current cancer treatments and radiotherapy. She was also the first woman in Europe to obtain a doctoral degree in science and was viewed as a model for other female radiobiologists.

Patricia Goldman-Rakic (1937-2003)

Breaking ground in neuroscience, Patricia Goldman-Rakic’s research on the brain has set a foundation of knowledge of brain health. Her work is responsible for what we currently know about memory function and the functions of the frontal lobe. She was considered one of the most distinguished neuroscientists of her time, and her research gave insight on diseases such as Parkinson’s and schizophrenia that opened the door for potential treatments.