Edith Quimby

Edith Quimby (1891 – 1982) was a pioneer in the field of radiation physics, a founder of nuclear medicine, and is considered the first female medical physicist in the United States.

She was born in 1891 in Rockford, Illinois, and earned degrees in physics and mathematics from Whitman College and the University of California, Berkeley. Much of her early work at the Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York focused on the medical effects of radiation and limiting side effects with proper dosages. Furthermore, she was also interested in the safe application of radioactive isotopes in the treatment of thyroid disease, brain tumors, and other cancers.

Edith Quimby helped found the Radiological Research Laboratory at Columbia University, was the first female physicist president of the American Radium Society and was influential in the founding of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. She was a professor at both Cornell University Medical College and Columbia University, and she authored several books throughout her career, including the classic Physical Foundations of Radiology (1944), and over 70 scientific papers.

Awards & Recognition

  • 1940 – Recipient of the Janeway Medal from the American Radium Society
  • 1941 – Awarded the Gold Medal of the Radiological Society of North America
  • 1963 – Awarded the Gold Medal from the American College of Radiology
  • AAPM established a lifetime achievement award in her honor.