National Academy of Sciences
- About The NAS
- Activities & Programs
- News & Social Media
Election Year: 1973
Scientific Discipline: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member
Helen Ranney pioneered research in hemoglobin genetics. She created a method of distinguishing the normal molecular structure of hemoglobin—the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells—from abnormal hemoglobin found in patients with sickle-cell anemia. While comparing the two structures of hemoglobin, she identified their allelic relationship and determined the genetic factors responsible for sickle-cell anemia.
Ranney graduated from Barnard College in 1941 and earned her MD from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1947. From 1951 to 1953 she was a Clinical Cancer Fellow at Columbia University, where she taught medicine until 1960. She began teaching at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1960. In 1970 she became a professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Ranney was the first woman president of the Association of American Physicians and the first woman to serve as a Distinguished Physician of the Veterans Administration.