Alice Augusta Ball
Alice Augusta Ball was an African-American pharmaceutical chemist who developed the first successful treatment for Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Alice Ball got her first two degrees in pharmacy and pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Washington. She also graduated with a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Hawaii, becoming both the first African-American and the first woman to graduate with a degree in chemistry from the institution. She also became the first woman to teach chemistry at the university when she was only 23 years old.
Alice Ball began her research using chaulmoogra oil to cure Hansen’s disease (leprosy). She was unable to produce an injectable chaulmoogra oil before her death at the age of 24. After her death, Arthur Dean, the chairman of the Chemistry Department at the University of Hawaii began using Ball’s research work and discovery. He eventually claimed ownership of the work and never credited Alice Ball.
In 1922, Dr. Harry T. Hollmann, the assistant surgeon at Kalihi Hospital who had mentored Alice and encouraged her to explore chaulmoogra oil, published a research paper giving Alice Ball the proper credit she deserved for her discovery, calling it ‘The Ball Method’, which became the most effective way of treating Hansen’s disease.