Skip to main content

How one scientist averted a national health crisis - Andrea Tone

1,908,208 Views

4,608 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

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.

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.

Next Section »

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

More from The World's People and Places