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School of Medicine
Changing the Face of Medicine
Mary Ellen Avery, Med '52
Dr. Avery is a former president of The Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association.
In the 1950s, Dr. Avery's pioneering research efforts helped lead to the discovery of the main cause of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) in premature babies. During her career in academic medicine, Dr. Avery had a strong interest in training young physicians, particularly in pulmonary disease and neonatology. She was a role model and advocate for women entering the medical profession. She contributed significantly to the field of medicine as a researcher, educator, clinician and administrator.
In 1960, Dr. Avery became an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University and pediatrician in charge of newborn nurseries. She went on to serve as professor and chair of the department of pediatrics at McGill University in Montreal. In 1974, she joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School as professor of pediatrics. That same year she was the first woman named physician-in-chief at Boston's Children's Hospital, where she remained until 1985. Read more about Dr. Avery's career.
- "Mary Ellen Avery, 84; found key factor to save preemies," The Boston Globe
- "Mary Ellen Avery, Premature Babies’ Savior, Dies at 84," The New York Times