Skip to main content
Heroes of Public Health

Margaret Merrell, ScD

Margaret Merrell, ScD

Margaret Merrell's name evokes memories of a beloved teacher of generations of statisticians, a no-nonsense administrator, and a wise mentor.

In 1922, Dr. Merrell had just graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College. She moved to Baltimore to teach mathematics at a private school and within two years was a part-time student in biostatistics at the School. And a year after that she was an assistant on the School's faculty.

As well-known for her teaching as for her research, Dr. Merrell was interested in clinical and field trials, life tables, and physiological reaction rates. She served as a member of the advisory committee of the Milbank Foundation and a consultant to the U.S. Public Health Service.

During World War II, Dr. Merrell was consultant to the surgeon general of the United States Army. She designed studies to evaluate treatment of venereal diseases, particularly in the use of penicillin to halt syphilis, and in ways to prevent motion sickness.