Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller
Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the
month of February as Black History Month.
Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller was the First Black psychiatrist in the United States, researching degenerative brain disorders with Dr. Alois Alzheimer. He became an authority on this disease
Solomon Carter Fuller immigrated to the United States from Liberia at age 17 and excelled in his medical career to become associate professor of both pathology and neurology at Boston University by 1921. Dr Fuller completed his medical education at Boston University with an MD in 1897 at twenty-five years of age.
In 1904, he became a laboratory research assistant to the now famous Alois Alzheimer, for whom the disease is named for, which changed the trajectory of his life’s work.
In 1912 Dr. Fuller published the first comprehensive review of Alzheimer's disease at the time. It was Dr. Fuller who translated Dr. Alzheimer’s research into English, which included the plight of Auguste Deter, a fifty-one-year-old woman who exhibited irrational behavior and memory loss, the first reported case of the disease. Included in this publication was the detailed medical research of the ninth reported case of the disease, a fifty-six-year-old man. His autopsy revealed what we now know as “tangles,” or amyloid plaques exhibited as a mass of thick snarls and whirls in the brain.
By the age of forty-seven, Dr. Fuller had dedicated his time to medical education at Boston University, becoming associate professor of neuropathology that year and two years later associate professor of neurology. Despite his amazing achievements in both research and academia, he experienced racial discrimination, he was underpaid and underrecognized. Such an accomplished doctor was bypassed when a junior assistant professor was named as the chair of the department of neurology. He retired in 1933 at the age of sixty-one explaining, “With the sort of work that I have done, I might have gone farther and reached a higher plane had it not been for the color of my skin.”
Suffering with diabetes, he lost his eyesight in 1944 and was unable to practice medicine. He died in 1954 from complications of diabetes and cancer.