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Columbia University Celebrates Black History Month

Dr. Charles R. Drew

As an African American physician during the Jim Crow era, Dr. Drew often faced discrimination in pursuing a career as a surgeon, including at Columbia. But Drew persevered, and supported by colleagues, began to conduct research in blood plasma, eventually receiving a doctorate of medical science degree in 1940 from Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Drew discovered that plasma could be dried and reconstituted, making it possible to “bank” it for long periods of time. This work led to his development of the world’s first blood bank and improved techniques for blood storage. He also challenged the scientific fallacy of racial segregation in blood donation.

Each year Columbia celebrates Black History Month with a variety of activities, including the Charles R. Drew Blood Bone Marrow Drives, coordinated by the Office of Government and Community Affairs.


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