Goldsmith, Grace Arabell (1904–1975)

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Goldsmith, Grace Arabell (1904–1975)

American physician, nutritionist, and public-health educator. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on April 8, 1904; died in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 28, 1975; only child of Arthur William (an accountant) and Arabell (Coleman) Goldsmith; attended the University of Minnesota; University of Wisconsin, B.S., 1925; Tulane University, M.D.; University of Minnesota, M.S. in medicine, 1936; never married; no children.

Grace Arabell Goldsmith, a talented dancer, was the physical education director of the New Orleans YWCA when a friend convinced her to attend medical school. Working her way through Tulane by teaching dance classes, she graduated at the top of her class (edging out Michael DeBakey, the famed cardiovascular surgeon), then worked as an intern at New Orleans' Touro Infirmary. In 1933, she joined the staff of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as a fellow in internal medicine. In 1936, after receiving an M.S. in medicine from the University of Minnesota, she returned to Tulane to teach. There, she pursued an interest in vitamin deficiency diseases, establishing tests for vitamin C deficiency and researching pellagra. She was instrumental in recommending dietary allowances for niacin, the vitamin that prevents pellagra, and also conducted studies on riboflavin, folic acid, and vitamin B-12. She then launched a public health campaign on the benefits of nutritionally enriching food.

In 1940, Goldsmith expanded her focus to include worldwide nutrition problems, studying the effects of vitamin enriched foods in Newfoundland. Later, she founded a nutritional training program for medical students at Tulane, the first of its kind. It would gain autonomy as the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, of which she served as dean in the 1960s, thus becoming the first woman dean of a school of public health in the United States. Goldsmith also served as president of the American Institute of Nutrition (1965), the American Board of Nutrition (1966–67), and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition (1972–73). She received the AMA's Goldberger Award in Clinical Nutrition in 1964.

Grace Goldman, an energetic woman who led a rich and varied life, was an excellent gardener and a gourmet cook; she also loved to entertain and had a passion for dancing that was lifelong. She died in New Orleans in 1975, age 71.


Bailey, Brooke. The Remarkable Lives of 100 Women Healers and Scientists. Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams, 1994.

Sicherman, Barbara, and Carol Hurd Green, eds. Notable American Women: The Modern Period. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.

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Goldsmith, Grace Arabell (1904–1975)

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