Biographies of Scientists

Biographies of Scientists: Dale Brown Emeagwali - Microbiologist and Community Leader

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Dale Brown Emeagwali was born December 24, 1954, in Baltimore, Maryland. Her parents are Leon and Doris Brown. Mr. Brown worked for the publication AFRO-American, and Mrs. Brown was a teacher with the Baltimore city school system. They encouraged her studies and provided an outlet for her interest in science.

She attended Alexander Hamilton Elementary School and Northwestern High School, graduating in 1972. She enrolled at Coppin State College, an historically black college in Baltimore that is part of the University System of Maryland, and graduated in 1976. Emeagwali credits her later successes to "good teachers as good training" at Coppin State. After her first class in microbiology, she decided on a biology major.

She then attended Georgetown University School of Medicine, in Washington, DC, receiving her Ph.D. in microbiology in 1981. Her work involved bacteria found in soil, as well as viruses and protozoans.

While living in Minneapolis, working as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, she worked on the African American Science Day, encouraging students to study science.

In an interview by Megan Sullivan for the National Science Teachers Association, Emeagwali states:

The overall goal of my work has always been to answer fundamental questions about cellular processes. I also like my work to have potential significant applications in the medical field. Thus, my interests lead me to conduct research in various areas including microbial physiology, virology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. A typical day involves checking on previous experiments, setting up new investigations, and analyzing data. While I find my work fun, it does get busy at times. The reward of obtaining new data makes it worth the effort. In addition to laboratory research, time must also be spent writing papers and reading to keep up with new developments.

Her work in cancer research includes the discovery that antisense methodology can inhibit cancer-gene expression. She has also demonstrated that isozymes of kynurenine formamidase exist in Streptomyces parvulus, a bacterium.

Emeagwali is currently an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

Dr. Emeagwali is married to Philip Emeagwali, a computer scientist. They have one son.

Honors and Awards:

Scientist of the Year, USA National Technical Association, 1996
Fellowship, Uniformed Services University Health Sciences
Fellowship, National Institutes of Health
Fellowship, Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund
Fellowship, American Cancer Society
Fellowship, National Science Foundation