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How one scientist averted a national health crisis - Andrea Tone

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In 1960, Frances Kelsey was one of the Food and Drug Administration’s newest recruits. Before the year was out, she would begin a fight that would save thousands of lives — though no one knew it at the time. Andrea Tone explains how Kelsey was able to prevent a massive national public health tragedy by privileging facts over opinions, and patience over shortcuts.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Andrea Tone
  • Director Lisa LaBracio
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Designer Lisa LaBracio
  • Animator Sara Zarul Azham
  • Composer M. Tomihisa
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott, Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez
Additional Resources for you to Explore
With four degrees, including a PhD and an MD, Frances Kelsey was one of the most educated medical scientists of her time. As a woman, her education also made her extremely rare. In 1950, when Frances Kelsey earned her medical degree, fewer than 5% of physicians were women. In 2010, only 32% of people with medical degrees are women.

To learn more about Frances Oldham Kelsey, click here.

This article from the New York Times provides a detailed look into Kelsey’s accomplishments and legacy.

Check out this piece from the Smithsonian, which describes Kelsey’s work at the FDA.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Andrea Tone
  • Director Lisa LaBracio
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Designer Lisa LaBracio
  • Animator Sara Zarul Azham
  • Composer M. Tomihisa
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott, Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez