Marie Maynard Daly was born on April 16th, 1921 in Corona, Queens, New York City.
She was the child of an immigrant father Irving C. Daily and Washington D.C. native, Helen Page.
Ivan C. Daly worked day to day as a postal worker, but was incredibly passionate about chemistry. He immigrated to the U.S. to study chemistry, and was admitted to Cornell University. However, due to lack of funds, he had to disenroll.
Daly developed a passion for chemistry at a young age, supplemented by a love for reading. She graduated Hunter College High School and moved on to graduate magna cum laude from Queens College in 1942. She moved on to earn her Master’s degree in chemistry from New York University in 1944.
Marie Maynard Daly pushed forward to become the first black woman in the United States to earn her PhD in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947, authoring the thesis: “A Study of the Products Formed By the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch”.
From 1948-1949 Daly taught at Howard University in Washington D.C. She then earned a grant for postdoctoral research from the American Cancer Society. Daly joined Alfred E. Mirsky at the Rockefeller Institute for seven years, leaving 1955 to research and teach biochemistry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. She stayed there until 1960, when she began as an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, where she stayed until retiring as an associate professor in 1986.
Daly’s work at Columbia University was key in scientists’ understanding of the relationship between clogged arteries and high cholesterol. She later on made monumental discoveries in the relationship between smoking and sugar effects on the arteries.
In 1988, Daly established a scholarship for black chemistry and physics students at Queens College. In 1999, she was recognized by the National Technical Association as one of the top 50 women in Science, Engineering and Technology.
Daly passed away in New York City on October 28th, 2003.
Read some of her papers: