Marie M. Daly was born in Queens, New York City in 1921. As a child, both Daly’s mother and father played a large role in developing her interests in science, reading, and academia. Her mother, an avid reader, fostered her love for academia and literature. Her father developed her love for science and encouraged her to learn about scientists and their achievements. In his younger years, her father had wanted to become a chemist but had to drop out of college due to finances.
Daly’s fathers’ adversities inspired her to pursue chemistry and she eventually majored in the subject at Queens College. Following this, she earned her Master’s Degree at New York University and eventually her Ph.D. in Chemistry. Daly earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University in just 3 years and upon doing so, became the first Black American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry. After the completion of her studies, many employers were looking to hire women to fill the spots of men fighting in World War 2. As a result, Daly was able to find employment and continue her research, ultimately trailblazing opportunities for women in her field.
Daly continued her career in STEM by conducting various research studies. Notably, her study which was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine highlighted subjects including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and the clogging of arteries. Eventually, she discovered a strong relationship between high blood pressure and having high cholesterol levels. This was an incredible discovery that created a foundation for further research into atherosclerosis and diseases related to high blood pressure.
Her research also extended to studying the forming of chromosomes in our cells and more specifically, the characterization of histones. This work was especially important because understanding histones are essential to understanding the expression of various genes. As such her work contributed greatly to our knowledge today of histones and the organization of DNA.
To learn more about Marie M Daly and her work, visit the Science History Institute or check out the children’s book Marie, The Fantastic Biochemist: Marie Maynard Daly, The First African American Woman to Earn a Chemistry Ph.D. by Imee Cuison.
Biography.com Editors. “Marie M. Daly.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 12 Jan. 2021, www.biography.com/scientist/marie-m-daly.
“Marie M. Daly - From a Love of Science to a Legacy of Discoveries.” Science in the News, 12 Nov. 2020, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2020/marie-m-daly-from-a-love-of-science-to-a-legacy-of-discoveries-2/.