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How a courageous physician-scientist saved the U.S. from a birth-defects catastrophe
29.04.2021 Stephen Phillips
Medicine
Frances Oldham Kelsey

The auditorium at the Food and Drug Administration’s headquarters was buzzing. For the massed ranks of FDA officials, it was an opportunity to mark a defining moment in the agency’s history. Half a century almost to the day, the central figure in a case that changed the face of drug regulation was returning to the FDA.

Frances Oldham Kelsey, MD, PhD, then 96 and frail, was chaperoned by her two daughters for the occasion. She beamed as FDA leaders honored her in speeches before presenting her with the Dr. Frances O. Kelsey Award for Excellence and Courage in Protecting the Public Health. 

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