Celebrating black history month with Alice Augusta Ball, the lady who found the cure against leprosy

You will undoubtedly have heard of Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale but you probably won’t have heard of Alice Augusta Ball.

Alice Augusta Ball
Part of the frieze of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Skin lesions on the thigh of a person with leprosy

From Seattle to Hawaii to Seattle

She was born in 1892 in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Discovering the cure for leprosy

After this, she went back to Hawaii to take up her Master’s studies on isolating the active principle of the Kava plant, a plant native to the pacific islands where it is consumed for its sedating, anesthetic, and euphoriant effects.

Kava plant
Hydnocarpus wightianus

The credit of these discoveries was taken from her

After she dies, Arthur Dean, the president of the University of Hawaii, first claimed fame for himself, which he could do, because Alice Ball died after an accident in the lab involving chlorine gas in 1916.

Alice Augusta Ball


Alice Ball’s achievement is two-fold.

A) She has invented the method named after her and

B) she has given many leprosy patients a way out of the leprosy colonies and the opportunity to be reunited with their families.

Her supervisor took credit for a discovery.

Her contributions were recognized 84 years after her death.

In 2020, her story has been made into a short movie by Dagmawi Abebe. [3]

Co-Fonder of Trianon Scientific Communication. Expert in Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainable Development for SMEs — https://www.science-by-trianon.com

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