New Film Honors the First Black Woman to Earn a Ph.D. at Duke University

Ida Stephens OwensIn 1967 Ida Stephens Owens received a Ph.D. in physiology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She was the first Black women to earn a Ph.D. at Duke. Dr. Owens was a summa cum laude graduate of what is now North Carolina Central University and she was recruited to enroll in the Duke Graduate School in 1962.

After earning her Ph.D. in 1976, Owens conducted postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health. She initiated a research program that is now recognized nationally and internationally for its studies on the genetics of human diseases. In 1981, this research program was extended and made into a permanent Section on Drug Biotransformation at the National Institutes of Health.

The story of Ida Owens at Duke is told in a new film entitled The Education of Ida Owens: Science, Civil Rights, and the Integration of Duke University.

The 34-minute film can be viewed below.

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  1. Thank you for “The Education of Ida Owens….” I enrolled in the Duke University Graduate
    School in 1969 and subsequently earned a master’s degree. It is good to know one who
    opened the doors ahead of me. I appreciate her gift to all of us who followed her.

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