William Warrick Cardozo: The Little Known Black Scientist Who Pioneered Sickle Cell Research

William Warrick Cardozo The little known Black scientist who pioneered sickle cell research
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William Warrick Cardozo is regarded as the first African-American scientist to make a breakthrough in sickle cell anemia research. Francis Cardozo, Jr. gave birth to him on April 6, 1905, in Washington, D.C.

He grew up in a family of intelligent individuals. According to BlackPast, his father was a high school principal and his grandfather, Francis Cardozo, was a well-known D.C. area politician and educator. Cardozo received his primary schooling in the District of Columbia public schools and then continued his study at the Hampton Institute of Virginia. He subsequently went on to Ohio State University.

From 1929 to 1933, he earned his A.B. and M.D. degrees at Ohio State University. He was awarded a two-year fellowship to conduct pediatric research at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.


This sparked his interest in sickle cell anemia research. In the Archives of Internal Medicine, he published his important research titled “Immunologic Studies in Sickle Cell Anemia.” Cardozo’s work was essential in establishing that sickle cell anemia was largely inherited and linked to one’s genes. It also demonstrated that a person may have sickle cell disease but not be anemic, and that the disease was not fatal.

According to BlackPast, his research found that there was no effective therapy for the condition. His discoveries are still important today. He also discovered that while sickle cell anemia was more common in Black individuals, it did not invariably result in anemia or death.

Cardozo then established his own law firm in Washington, D.C. in 1937. The same year, he worked as a part-time pediatrics instructor at Howard University College of Medicine and Freedmen’s Hospital. He was promoted to clinical assistant professor and clinical associate professor of pediatrics as he continued to excel in his area.

Aside from his landmark work on sickle cell anemia, Cardozo researched and published on children with gastrointestinal diseases, Hodgkin’s disease, and the early growth and development of African-American children. His findings paved the way for further research into sickle cell disease and the development of better treatments.

Cardozo did not devote all of his time to studies; he was also involved in charity efforts. He focused a portion of his efforts on increasing understanding of illnesses affecting children, particularly Black children.

He was a public school medical inspector, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He also volunteered at the Ionia R. Whipper Home for Unwed Mothers, D.C.’s only facility for African-American women.

He was not interested in honorary titles, but in leaving a legacy that would effect future generations. Cardozo died of a heart attack on August 11, 1962, in Washington, D.C. Death, however, did not cast a shadow on his achievements.


Written by How Africa News

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