Dick, Gladys

Dick, Gladys (Rowena b. Henry)

(1881–1963) microbiologist, physician; born in Pawnee City, Nebr. After taking her B.S. from the University of Nebraska (1900), she overcame her mother's objections and attended Johns Hopkins Medical School. Turning to biomedical research, specifically into blood chemistry, she went to the University of Chicago (1911) where she met her future husband, George Frederick Dick, who was working on the etiology of scarlet fever. In 1914 the newly married Dicks joined Chicago's John R. McCormick Memorial Institute for Infectious Diseases where she remained until her retirement in 1953. Working together, the Dicks made major contributions to the prevention and treatment of scarlet fever—in 1923 identifying the streptococcus bacterium as the cause and developing the "Dick test" for susceptibility. This led to a long series of lawsuits over their attempts to secure patents for their methods of producing toxins and antitoxins (which some believe cost them a Nobel Prize). In addition to her medical research, she was active in child welfare and founded the Cradle Society in Evanston, Ill., one of the first American professional organizations to supervise adoptions of children.