University of Virginia School of Medicine Honors an Early Black Graduate

The University of Virginia has renamed its medical research building to honor Dr. Vivian Pinn. Dr. Pinn was the only woman and the only African American in the 1967 graduating class at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

The newly named Pinn Hall is being renovated. It was formerly known as Jordan Hall, named after Harvey E. Jordan, who served as dean of the medical school and was a proponent of eugenics.

After graduating from the School of Medicine, Dr. Pinn served on the faculty at Tufts Medical School and the College of Medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. At Howard, she was the first African American to chair the department of pathology. In 1991, Dr. Pinn was named the inaugural director of the Office for Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health. She served in that role for 20 years.

Dr. Pinn is also a past president of the National Medical Association. Today, she is senior scientist emerita at the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health. In 2005, Dr. Pinn was the first African American woman to give the commencement address at the University of Virginia.

Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, said, “For the University of Virginia, it is a privilege to dedicate this space in honor of someone who has spent much of her life shattering glass ceilings and breaking down barriers – someone who has made a powerful impact on the university’s history; the history of medicine and women in medicine; and the future for African-American women.”

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