Black history doesn’t have to be celebrated only in February. However, Black History Month is a great opportunity to learn about unsung African-American heroes and their contributions to various areas—gut health included! Below, meet three Black figures who have been influential in what we know about digestion and our gastrointestinal health.
Dr. Sadye Beatryce Curry was the first Black woman gastroenterologist.
Dr. Curry was the first Black woman to complete gastroenterology training at Duke University, eventually becoming chief of medicine at Howard University Hospital.
She was a founding member of the Leonidas Berry Society for Digestive Diseases, a support system for people of color in gastroenterology, basic science, and surgery, and was the first woman to serve as chair of the National Medical Association’s internal medicine and gastroenterology sections.
Dr. Leonidas Berry was the first Black gastroenterologist, and a pioneer in gastroscopy.
The namesake for the organization founded in part by Dr. Curry, Dr. Leonidas Berry changed the way we see inside the digestive system. As the first Black gastroenterologist, he made advancements in endoscopy (examining inside the body using a thin tube with a light and lens) and gastroscopy (looking into the gastrointestinal system, specifically). He was the first Black gastroenterologist, and developed the Eder-Berry biopsy gastroscope in 1936 to remove diseased tissue from the stomach.
Dr. Berry devoted much of his work to the fight against systemic racism in the medical field, publishing numerous papers on the subject and playing a major role in the integration of the American Medical Association. His career spanned over 50 years.
Dr. Gary Richter was the first Black president of the Medical Association of Atlanta.
Dr. Richter is a gastroenterologist who is currently practicing. He was the first African-American physician appointed as the president of the Medical Association of Atlanta, an organization dedicated to the advancement of organized medicine in the Atlanta, G.A., area.