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Alice Augusta Ball: The African-American Woman Chemist Who Pioneered the First Viable Treatment for Hansen's Disease

      Abstract

      Alice Augusta Ball was a young and dynamic chemist who achieved extraordinary milestones in her short lifespan of 24 years. As an African American and as a woman in the early 20th century, her work and achievements set a benchmark. Her breakthrough work on the extraction of the water-soluble ethyl esters of Chaulmoogra oil changed the lives of millions of people affected with Hansen’ disease who were socially boycotted and segregated to leprosy colonies and asylums. The Chaulmoogra oil esters which continued to be used for almost two decades were the first viable treatment of leprosy. Unfortunately, Alice Ball did not receive the recognition and honor for her work, and she was forgotten soon after her untimely death.
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