Elizabeth D. Hay

Harvard University

April 2, 1927 - August 20, 2007


Election Year: 1984
Scientific Discipline: Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: Member

Elizabeth Hay’s research enhanced our understanding of embryological processes, regeneration, and cell proliferation and migration. She was one of the first people to use an electron microscope to view these biological processes. Using electron microscopy she deduced the structure and specific functions of the extracellular matrix; the structure that surrounds and supports cells. She found that the extracellular matrix is responsible for determining cell shape, cell function, cell-to-cell communication, and repair.

Hay graduated from Smith College in 1948 and went on to earn her doctor of medicine degree in 1952 from Johns Hopkins University where she was one of four women in her class. In 1956 Hay was offered a position as Assistant Professor of Anatomy at Johns Hopkins and in 1957 she was appointed Assistant Professor at Cornell University Medical College. In 1975 she was the first women to make full professor at Harvard University in a preclinical department. She was the first woman to be elected president of the American Society of Cell Biology and the first woman to receive the Conklin Medal in Developmental Biology.

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