We’re excited to continue our celebration of Black history this week by highlighting the life and work of Dr. Angella Dorothea Ferguson, a pediatrician and sickle cell pioneer. Dr. Ferguson’s research changed the landscape for sickle cell diagnosis in children and made a huge impact on how we identify and treat SCD to this day.
Dr. Ferguson was born in 1925 and received her bachelor’s and medical degrees from Howard University. After graduation, she began work as a medical researcher at Howard University’s School of Medicine, where she aimed to gather data correlating the height and weight of children with age. While completing this research, she discovered that a large number of African American children suffered from sickle cell disease, which, at the time, was a fairly unknown condition. She changed gears and committed her time to understanding how the disease presents itself in children. In doing so, she became one of the first researchers to dedicate her studies to sickle cell.
Dr. Ferguson’s research had lasting impacts on how sickle cell is diagnosed and treated. She developed a blood test to diagnose the disease in infants, and her test is the standard in most states to this day. Thanks to her research, we better understand which symptoms to look for in children and can start treating sickle cell earlier. Thanks to Dr. Ferguson for the work she has done on behalf of our community!