Agnes Flack '20
Agnes Flack ’20 graduated from the Woman’s Medical College in 1926 and had an extraordinary career in medicine. After a decade as a pediatrician and obstetrician, she moved to the atomic energy plant at Oak Ridge, TN during World War II to work on the Manhattan Project. While there, she and a colleague developed a new treatment for hydrofluric acid burns using injections of calcium gluconate. She wrote to the Alumnae Office in 1946,“We feel we have had a real part in ending the war and hope our efforts to turn atomic power into peacetime uses will be successful. I expect to stay here indefinitely and hope it will never be necessary to plant atomic bombs again! Life at Manhattan Project has been most interesting and the growth and development of the whole program amazing.”
In 1953 she became the medical director of the New Jersey State Reformatory for Women at Clinton, NJ. During her time as director, she became involved in the vaccine trials of the Sabin attenuated polio vaccine. In addition to trials involving the infants born to women at Clinton Farms, she also ran trials in the Belgian Congo in 1958 which vaccinated 244,000 people and stopped a polio outbreak in its tracks. She remarked in a letter shortly afterward, “So maybe someday we will all be safely immunized at birth – and best of all it will be permanent”. She was presented with an honorary degree from Wilson in 1959. In 1962 she moved to St. Croix, Virgin Islands and became the “Physician in charge of Institutions of the Virgin Islands”.