Nansie Sharpless
Nansie Sharpless was born on October 11, 1932 in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  Her father was a biochemist.  He studied nutrition.  Her parents allowed many people to stay in their home when she was a child.  They had experienced very bad things in their lives.  This made her thankful for the life she had. When she was fourteen she got really sick.  She had meningitis.  This caused her to become deaf.

Symptoms of Meningitis
Picture Courtesy of Dublin City University

Wayne State University

Picture Courtesy of Wayne State University

She finished high school at a public school.  Then she decided to go to Oberlin College.  She struggled, but had a friend that took notes for her which helped.  She graduated with a bachelors degree in zoology in 1954.  She decided to continue her education at Wayne State University.  She had a hard time communicating during this time, but graduated successfully in 1956.
She worked for a while as a medical technologist.  She learned a lot of new techniques.  Then she decided to go back to school again.  This time she went to get her doctoral degree at Wayne State University.  The director at the school said that people would question Ms. Sharpless's abilities.  She proved them wrong.  She graduated with perfect grades.

Medical Technologist

Picture Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

Mayo Clinic

Picture Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic

She was hired to work in the Department of Biochemistry at the Mayo Clinic after she graduated. First she studied the metabolism of L-dopa in cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, and urine.  She tested her theories on rats and guinea pigs.  Then she changed jobs.
She starting working at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  There she studied how chemicals caused brain and mental disorders. She wanted to know how people with brain and mental disorders could be helped.

Parts of the Brain

Picture Courtesy of Brain Health and Puzzles

Poster Session

Photo Courtesy of Food Science Australia

Ms. Sharpless presented her research at conferences a lot.  She was excited when the use of "poster sessions" started.  She saw it as a good opportunity for deaf scientists.  She encouraged deaf people to become scientists.
She wrote about what she studied.  She was very active in the scientific community and a lot of people remember her because she was deaf.

Picture Courtesy of American Association for the Advancement of Science

  She worked in the Department of Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine until she died on October 9, 1987.

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Nansie Sharpless.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences
(pp.328-331). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.