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Madge Thurlow Macklin

Born  1893
Died  1962

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American medical geneticist, born February 6, 1893, Philadelphia; died March 14, 1962, Toronto, Canada.

Biography of Madge Thurlow Macklin

Madge Thurlow Macklin was a pioneer researcher in the inheritance of diseases. She studied physiology ant Johns Hopkins Medical School 1914-1915 and then entered medicine. She graduated M.D. with honours in 1919. In 1918, while still a student, she married Dr. Charles C. Macklin, associate professor of anatomy at Johns Hopkins.

From 1921 she was part time instructor at the University of Western Ontario in London, where her husband had been appointed professor of histology and embryology. In 1930 she was promoted to assistant professor, still part-time.

Her major research interest was the hereditary aspects of cancer, and her studies provided convincing evidence that hereditary factors, along with environmental ones, were involved in many specific types of cancer. During the 1920s and 1930 she urged that genetics be added to the medical curriculum. In 1938 only one medical school in North America had a compulsory separate course in genetics, by 1953, 55 percent included courses in the subject. To a great extent this change was due to Macklin's research.

A more controversial side of Madge Macklin's work was her support of the eugenics movement, which sought to improve the human race by controlling breeding. She helped establish the Canadian Eugenics Society and published more than twenty articles on the subject. She saw eugenics as a branch of preventive medicine and believed that physicians ought to "determine who are physically and mentally qualified to be parents of the next generation".

In 1945 her seasonal appointment with Western Ontario was not renewed. In 1946 she was appointed research associate in cancer research by the National Research Council and moved to Ohio State University in Columbus, where she was also lecturer in medical genetics. Her husband remained at Western Ontario and she returned to her home in London for vacations and holidays. She retired from Ohio State in 1959 and returned to London to care for her ailing husband, who died a few months later. She spent the last three years of her life with her daughters and grandchildren in Toronto and died there of a heart attack in 1962.


  • Should the Teaching of Genetics as Applied to Medicine Have a Place in the Medical Curriculum?
    Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Chicago, November 1932.
  • The Teaching of Inheritance of Disease to Medical Students: A Proposed Course in Medical Genetics.
    Annals of Internal Medicine, April 1933.
  • The Need of a Course in Medical Genetics in the Medical Curriculum: A Pivotal Point in the Eugenic Program.
    International Eugenics Congress III, A Decade of Progress in Eugenics, 1934.
  • Genetical Aspects of Sterilization of the Mentally Unfit.
    The Canadian Medical Association Journal, February 1934.
  • Origin of the Socially Inadequate. The Journal of Heredity, August 1934.
  • The Value of Accurate Statistics in the Study of Cancer.
    The Canadian Public Health Journal, 1934, 25: 369-73.
  • Genes and the Unconscious. The Journal of Heredity, February 1935.
  • The Inheritance of Disease and Its Relationship to the Practice of Medicine.
    The medical Woman's Journal, April 1938.
  • The Case for Inheritance of Schizophrenia. The Journal of Heredity, May 1939.
  • Inheritance and Human Cancer. The Ohio State Medical Journal, August 1947.
  • Hubert C. Soltan:
    Madge Macklin - Pioneer in Medical Genetics.
    The University of Western Ontario Medical Journal, January 1967.
  • Murray Llewellyn Barr:
    A Century of Medicine at Western: A Centennial History of the Faculty of Medicine.
    University of Western Ontario, 1977.
  • Mary Jane Hogue:
    The Contribution of Coucher Women to the Biological Sciences.
    Goucher Alumnae Quarterly, summer 1951.

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