Partner Ida A. R. Wylie, buried together

Queer Places:
Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, Stati Uniti
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, Stati Uniti
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, Stati Uniti
Trevenna Farm, 208 Orchard Rd, Skillman, NJ 08558, Stati Uniti

Image result for Louise PearceLouise Pearce (March 5, 1885 – August 10, 1959) was an American pathologist at the Rockefeller Institute who helped develop a treatment for African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis).[1][3] Sleeping sickness was a fatal epidemic which had devastated areas of Africa, killing two-thirds of the population of the Uganda protectorate between 1900 and 1906 alone.[4] With chemists Walter Abraham Jacobs and Michael Heidelberger and pathologist Wade Hampton Brown, Pearce worked to develop and test arsenic-based drugs for its treatment. In 1920, Louise Pearce traveled to the Belgian Congo where she designed and carried out a drug testing protocol for human trials to establish tryparsamide's safety, effectiveness, and optimum dosage.[5] Tryparsamide proved successful in combating the fatal epidemic, curing 80% of cases.[6]

For her work on sleeping sickness, Pearce received the Order of the Crown of Belgium (1920[2] or 1921[6]). In 1953, Belgium further honored her, appointing Pierce and her co-workers as Officers of the Royal Order of the Lion[2]

Pearce also successfully developed treatment protocols to apply tryparsamide to syphilis. She spent much of her career studying animal models of cancer.

Louise Pearce was born on March 5, 1885, in Winchester, Massachusetts. She was the eldest child of Charles Ellis Pearce and Susan Elizabeth Hoyt. They later had a son, Robert. The family moved to California, where Louise attended the Girls Collegiate School in Los Angeles.[3]

Louise Pearce received an A.B. degree in physiology and histology from Stanford University in 1907.[3] She was a member of Pi Beta Phi. [7] She attended Boston University from 1907-1909,[2] and was admitted to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1907, with advanced standing.[3] In 1912 she obtained her M.D. from Johns Hopkins, graduating third in her class.[2] She then worked for a year in the hospital as a house officer, serving at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic.[8][9] Pearce was recommended by Dr. Welch of Johns Hopkins as "a promising medical pathologist."[3]

Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

In 1913, Pearce took a research position at the Rockefeller Institute, the first female to be so appointed. She worked as an assistant to Dr. Simon Flexner, the Institute's director. Pearce remained at Rockefeller Institute for the rest of her career, from 1913 to 1951.[9] She was promoted to associate member in 1923. For much of her time there, she worked closely with pathologist Dr. Wade Hampton Brown.[3] Although she advanced from assistant to associate, she was never promoted to a full member of the institute.[2]

For many years, Louise Pearce lived with physician Sara Josephine Baker and author Ida A. R. Wylie. All were members of Heterodoxy, a feminist biweekly luncheon discussion club, of which many members were lesbian or bisexual.[20] In the mid-1930s, after Baker retired, the three women lived together at Trevanna Farm, Skillman, New Jersey.[3] After Baker's death in 1945, Wylie and Pearce continued living there until both died in 1959.[9] Her home was described as a "most delightful and interesting place to live and study. Her shelves were crowded with many old editions of medical treasures, the latest scientific literature and the latest works on international questions. She had a wonderful collection of Chinese carvings and porcelains."[3] Wylie and Pearce are buried alongside each other at Henry Skillman Burying Ground, Trevenna Farm's family cemetery.[21]


  1. "A Guide to the Louise Pearce papers, Rockefeller University Faculty". Rochefeller Archive Center. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  2. Ogilvie, Marilyn (2000). "Pearce, Louise, 1885–1959". The biographical dictionary of women in science. New York: Routledge. pp. 997–998. ISBN 9780415920384.
  3. The Women's Project of New Jersey Inc.; Burstyn, Joan N. (1997). "Louise Pearce, 1885–1959". Past and promise : lives of New Jersey women (1st Syracuse University Press ed.). Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press. pp. 376–377. ISBN 978-0815604181.
  4. Kirkland, Caroline (1908). Some African Highways: A Journey of Two American Women to Uganda and the Transvaal. Boston: Dana Estes & Company. pp. Chapter VI. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  5. Corner, George W. (January 1965). A History of The Rockefeller Institute 1901–1953 Origins and Growth. The Rockefeller Institute Press. ISBN 9780874700329.
  6. "The First Drug for African Sleeping Sickness". The Rockefeller University. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  7. The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi, July 1906, p. 301.
  8. Chung, King-Thom (2010). "Louise Pearce (1885–1959)". Women pioneers of medical research: biographies of 25 outstanding scientists. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. pp. 81–87. ISBN 9780786429271.
  9. "Dr. Louise Pearce". Changing the Face of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  10. Low, George C.; Castellani, Aldo (August 1903). "Report on sleeping sickness from its clinical aspects". Reports of the Sleeping Sickness Commission: Royal Society. No. 1. London: Harrison and Sons. pp. 14–63. ISBN 9781402146923.
  11. Steverding, Dietmar (2010). "The development of drugs for treatment of sleeping sickness: a historical review". Parasites & Vectors. 3 (1): 15. doi:10.1186/1756-3305-3-15. PMC 2848007. PMID 20219092. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  12. Jacobs, W. A.; Heidelberger, Michael (31 October 1919). "CHEMOTHERAPY OF TRYPANOSOME AND SPIROCHETE INFECTIONS: CHEMICAL SERIES. I. N-PHENYLGLYCINEAMIDE-p-ARSONIC ACID." Journal of Experimental Medicine. 30 (5): 411–415. doi:10.1084/jem.30.5.411. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  13. Brown, W. H.; Pearce, Louise (31 October 1919). "CHEMOTHERAPY OF TRYPANOSOME AND SPIROCHETE INFECTIONS: BIOLOGICAL SERIES. I. THE TOXIC ACTION OF N-PHENYLGLYCINEAMIDE-p-ARSONIC ACID." Journal of Experimental Medicine. 30 (5): 417–436. doi:10.1084/jem.30.5.417. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  14. Pearce, Louise; Brown, Wade H. (31 October 1919). "CHEMOTHERAPY OF TRYPANOSOME AND SPIROCHETE INFECTIONS : BIOLOGICAL SERIES. II. THE THERAPEUTIC ACTION OF N-PHENYLGLYCINEAMIDE-p-ARSONIC ACID IN EXPERIMENTAL TRYPANOSOMIASIS OF MICE, RATS, AND GUINEA PIGS". Journal of Experimental Medicine. 30 (5): 437–453. doi:10.1084/jem.30.5.437. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  15. Sicherman, Barbara (1993). Notable American women : the modern period ; a biographical dictionary. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. pp. 531–532. ISBN 978-0674627338.
  16. "Queer Scientists of Historical Note". NOGLSTP. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  17. Chen, K. K. (1969). "The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Incorporated THE FIRST SIXTY YEARS 1908-1969" (PDF). The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Inc.
  18. Cohen, Marlene L.; Brevig, Holly; Carrico, Christine; Wecker, Lynn (2007). "SPECIAL CENTENNIAL ARTICLE Women in ASPET: A Centennial Perspective" (PDF). A Publication of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics – ASPET 124. 49 (4): 124–137. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  19. "Arcadia University Honorary Degree Recipients". Arcadia University. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  20. Schwarz, Judith (1982-01-01). Radical Feminists of Heterodoxy: Greenwich Village, 1912-1940. New Victoria Publishers. ISBN 9780934678056.
  21. Bigelow, Brad (27 May 2012). "My Life with George: An Unconventional Autobiography". The Neglected Books Page. Retrieved 10 May 2014.