Frances Kelsey receiving an award, 1962

Frances Kelsey receiving an award, 1962

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Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Frances Kelsey (born 1914), American pharmacologist, being awarded the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy. Kelsey, on receiving her Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Chicago in 1938, stayed on as a faculty member there. Later, in 1960, she was hired by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Washington where one of her first assignments was to review the drug thalidomide for which she withheld approval, requesting further studies. The drug later was shown to cause birth defects and Kelsey was consequently awarded the Gold Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, becoming the second woman to receive the award. Photographed in 1962.

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