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A Community of Rambunctious Scholars Celebrating People
Who Have Made Lifesaving Discoveries And Encouraging
Students and Politicians to Read 1000 Science Stories!

The Science Heroes in this Table of Contents have contributed to making the world a better place.  We believe they should be honored.

Advocates / Administrators
Tireless workers who take up a cause or apply science to save lives
Drew, Charles
Lamb, Cindy
Lasker, Mary
Lightner, Candy
Sawyer, Wilbur
CharlesDrewIcon Charles Drew
Blood Banking

June 3, 1904 - April 1, 1950
Washington D.C.

What kind of bank deposit is so valuable it can actually save lives? ....A donation to a blood bank! Thanks to the expertise and determination of Charles Drew, blood donations can now be stored for longer periods of time, extending their ability to save the lives of people who desperately need them. In North America, every year, over five million people receive blood transfusions from stored donations. Just a single pint of blood can save three lives!
At the time Drew began his work with blood banking, stored blood would last a mere seven days. This placed a strain on blood supplies, and donors were often called in on short notice to provide emergency donations. Sometimes this resulted in direct contact between the donor and recipient-an occurrence that was not only uncomfortable but also held the potential for contamination. Drew's discovery changed all that. He first separated the donated blood into its key components, the near solid plasma and liquid red blood cells. Drew then froze those components individually, which allowed them to be preserved and reconstituted for use at a much later date. Thanks to Drew's revolutionary approach, red blood cells can currently be stored for 42 days-and frozen plasma can be stored for a full year!

The Great Idea Finder website profile: Profiles in Black History series:

US Patent and Trademark Office press release about Drew's blood preservation method:

Wikipedia entry

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userFemaleSmallCindy Lamb
Helped to Develop MADD

Laura Lamb was just five and a half months old when a drunk driver plowed into the red pickup driven by her mother, Cindy Lamb. It was a terrible accident, breaking 14 bones in Cindy’s body. Laura survived the collision, but became a quadriplegic - America's youngest. The drunk driver had five prior convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) with no license and no insurance. Cindy devoted the next 6 years to Laura's care, seeing to it that her young daughter had as normal a life as possible. In between repeated medical treatments and surgeries, sometimes via helicopter, Laura was like any other youngster, once elbowing her sister Jennifer in the eye after an argument and later sneaking out of the house in her wheelchair by taking the elevator downstairs, and going for a spin outside! Laura was a feisty, spirited youngster, but the damage from her injuries eventually caught up with her. Laura died at age six. in 1980, Cindy helped co-found the organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which now has over 600 chapters and three million supporters.  MADD 's efforts  are a large reason drunk driving deaths have decreased (although they still exist and should be zero). Cindy Lamb has made appearances on TV to campaign for tougher drunk driving laws and has been interviewed on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and 20/20.

MADD website

University of Akron reference

US Department of Justice entry

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userFemaleSmallMary Lasker
Founder of The Lasker Foundation

November 30, 1900 – February 21, 1994
Watertown, Wisconsin

Think you're too old for nursery rhymes? How about “Mary and her little lambs”? In this case, it's a real story of devotion and commitment by Mary Lasker to the funding of medical research. Mary, along with her husband Albert, were pioneers in the field of fund raising for medicine. She became so prominent in this regard that her critics started labeling her projects as “little lambs.” Mary's efforts played a key role in the creation and expansion of the National Institutes of Health, whose budget rocketed upward by 300 fold in a short period of time, from three million dollars to 1 billion dollars. Together with her husband, Mary founded The Lasker Foundation, which plays a pivotal role in recognizing and promoting important contributions to medical research by scientists throughout the world. Lasker supported President Truman's efforts to establish a system of universal health insurance, fighting the voices who labeled such coverage “socialized medicine”, and strongly backed the legislation behind Medicare in the 1960s. Lasker was also Secretary of Planned Parenthood. Her devotion to find the cure for diseases was so strong that she even sold most of her collection of artworks to raise needed funds. Her memorable quote about this was, “Without money, nothing gets done.” She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 as well as the Congressional Medal of Honor in the same year.  She and her husband live on in the form of America's most well known medical awards. The Lasker Awards are given each year by The Lasker Foundation and are considered by some to be "America's Nobel Prizes."

National Library of Medicine resource

Wikipedia entry

Columbia University cite

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userFemaleSmallCandy Lightner
Founder of MADD

May 30, 1946

The age of 13 should be a time of exciting changes, but that was all wiped out in an instant for one student and her family. Candy Lightner's 13 year old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver. It was a terrible thing for a mother to go through. Motivated by her grief, Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She began a crusade to alert America to the need for tougher DUI laws. Her efforts resulted in states and cities across the land cracking down on driving-while-drinking offenders. Lightner does not oppose drinking, only driving under the influence. Her famous quote says it all: “If you want to drink, that's your business. But as soon as you drink and get behind the wheel of a car, it becomes my business.” MADD has contributed greatly to the decline in drunk driving deaths (although they still exist and should be zero).  Lightner received nationwide recognition for her efforts, including appearances on Good Morning America and a movie was made about her life. She received the President's Volunteer Action Award for her important advocacy.

Women's International Center reference

Wikipedia entry

San Francisco Examiner cite

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WilburSawyerIcon Wilbur Sawyer
Yellow Fever

Appleton, Wisconson

One hundred years ago, the sight of a yellow flag flown on a ship struck fear into the heart of sailors. It was called a yellowjack and referred to a yellow banner flown on to denote a quarantine for yellow fever. A century ago, yellow fever was a deadly, widespread disease that ran rampant throughout the tropical zones of the world. Yellow fever is carried by mosquitoes, and its impact resulted in jaundiced skin and black vomit. Many died in yellow fever epidemics. As a result, scientists set out to develop a vaccine for this malady. One prominent researcher in the forefront of the anti-Yellow Fever force was Wilbur Sawyer. Sawyer had medical experience, but his main claim to fame was as an administrator. Sawyer headed up the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Board Yellow Fever Laboratory. He worked with Max Thieler to develop the yellow fever vaccine in 1931. Combining fluid from yellow fever infected mouse brains with sterile human serum, then adding human serum taken from patients who succumbed to yellow fever, but survived, Sawyer and Thieler developed the “mouse protection test” shot. This was the most advanced vaccine at the time, and Thieler later received the Noble Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for its creation. There was a suggestion in the early 1930s, from Dr. Bolivar Jones Lloyd of the United States Public Health Service, that prisoners receive a presidential pardon if they were inoculated with Sawyer's yellow fever vaccine, and then agreed to be subjected to mosquito bites from insects carrying the disease. No one knows if Sawyer agreed with this plan. Interestingly, Lloyd offered himself as a test subject, provided his family was covered with a sufficient level of life insurance!

National Institutes of Health source, biography of Sawyer

National Institutes of Health reference, summary of yellow fever vaccine discoveries

National Institutes of Health cite, carrying article by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

Time Magazine entry

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