Louise Pearce was born on March 5, 1885, in Winchester, Massachusetts. She was the eldest child in her family, and had a younger brother. Pearce was an American pathologist at the Rockefeller Institute who helped develop a treatment for African sleeping sickness – a devastating epidemic which had depopulated whole districts of Africa.Louise received an A.B. degree in physiology and histology from Stanford University in 1907, and attended Boston University from 1907-1909. She was admitted to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1907, and in 1912 she obtained her M.D., graduating third in her class.
The Rockefeller Institute sent Louise to the Belgian Congo in 1920 to test tryparsamide on victims of sleeping sickness, trusting that her enthusiasm for her job would carry her to success. There, she worked with a local hospital and lab to carry out a drug testing protocol for human trials to establish tryparsamide’s safety and effectiveness on patients.
Spending much of her career studying animal models of cancer, Pearce also successfully developed treatment protocols to apply tryparsamide to syphilis. For her efforts, Pearce received the Order of the Crown of Belgium, the King Leopold II prize of $10,000, and the Royal Order of the Lion awards. Louise was also the first elected woman member of American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, an impressive feat in the 1920s.
Pearce was also a member of Heterodoxy, a progressive feminist group, along with her partner, physician Sara Baker. Heterodoxy was a debate group notable for providing a forum for the development of more radical conceptions of feminism, including the acceptance of bisexual and lesbian females such as Pearce.
Pearce passed away August 10, 1959 at age 74 in New York City, leaving behind an impressively progressive legacy to women, scientists and LGBT+ people everywhere.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.