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Remembering Sofia Simmonds, PhD (and others)

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2018 - Autumn


I was very surprised that there was no mention of Sofia Simmonds in your recent issue of Yale Medicine Magazine: A Century of Women at Yale School of Medicine, Spring 2018. I was a graduate student from 1952 to 1957 in the Microbiology Department across Cedar Street from the Biochemistry Department. The Biochemistry Department was unusual for the number of women graduate students there, among them Maxine Singer, PhD. Sofia Simmonds, PhD, was the wife of Joseph Fruton, PhD, the biochemistry department’s chair. In retrospect, the large number of female graduate students was probably due to the influence of Professor Simmonds.

Maurice Margulies, PhD ’57
Rockville, Md.

I am surprised that your issue on a century of women at Yale Medical School did not mention Professor Sofia Simmonds of what was then Yale’s Biochemistry Department, and which is now a component of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B). Not only did she co-author (with Joseph Fruton, her husband) the first comprehensive biochemistry textbook, which they updated in a second edition, but she also received the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society for contributions to chemistry by a female scientist. Even more importantly, she served as a role model and source of inspiration for female students desiring to enter the field of biochemistry.

Gerald J. Putterman, PhD ’65
Hamden, Conn.

Editor’s note: 52 pages might seem like a lot, but even that wasn’t sufficient to highlight all the remarkable accomplishments of women graduating from Yale School of Medicine or on the faculty. Simmonds is represented on the “100 Years of Women in Medicine Website.”

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