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Anna Williams

WILLIAMS, Anna, née Wessells, American bacteriologist and pathologist, 1863-1954. Following her graduation from NY Women’s Medical College, Anna held appointments at NY Infirmary and the City Health Dept Labs from 1891-1934. From 1905 she was Assistant Director of the NY Health Labs. Early in her career, in 1898, she had visited he Pasteur Institute in Paris, and learnt much about diagnosis and prevention of rabies. On her return she produced the first American vaccines against rabies. In 1905, she was the first to observe (but not first to the report) Negri cells in the brains of rabid animals. However, she was first with a new method of detecting these cells. In Anna’s first year at NYC Health Dept, she isolated a strain of diphtheria bacilli with a toxin suitable for immunisation. This discovery played a large part in eradication of the disease. Other major successes include detection of influenza, and streptococcal differentiation. Co-author of two  books with William Park, in 1905 ‘Pathogenic Micro-organisms including Bacteria and Protozoa’, and in 1929 ‘Who’s Who among the Microbes’. Anna was President of the Women’s Medical Association in 1915. Also a  senior member of the American Public Health Association, and on many committees. In 1932, she wrote an important paper ‘Streptococci in Relation to Man in Health and Disease’.

Bacteriologist Pathologist Inventor

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