• Microbigals

Ruth Ella Moore: A Pioneer For Black Female Scientists

Updated: Feb 20


A picture of Ruth Ella Moore.

Good Morning class! As you all know we are highlighting some prominant Black Microbiologist of the Giant's World. We head Hugo's presentation on William Augustus Hinton and Mia's presentation on Henrietta Lacks. Today, Anna will give her presentation on Dr. Ruth Ella Moore. Are you ready Anna?
Yeah I guess so.
OK! So Ruth Ella Moore was like a freakin' GOAT !
Anna - language.
Ugh. Whatever.
And watch the slang please.




Anyways, as I was saying, this giant was like the greatest of all time in my opinion. Dr. Ruth Ella Moore was a true pioneer of her time. She was the first black person to get a Ph.D. in bacteriology, the first black person to join ASM and she researched one of the ten most wanted, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I mean she even became the head of the department of bacteriology which she changed to Microbiology to be more inclusive for all of us. Not to mention she was a fashionista and made all her own clothes. She's a literal legend!


She was born at the turn of the 20th century, a time before women could vote and nearly 50 years before the civil rights movement, but she would live to see both of these in her lifetime. Icon.


She was the first Black American woman to get a Ph.D in natural sciences. and was also the first black person to join the American Society of Microbiology, even attending a conference in 1932. Unfortunately, at that time, America was so segregated that she was not permitted to stay in the hotels or eat with the other conference attendees.


As I said before, she was a bit of a fashionista, and The Sewer’s Art: Quality, Fashion, and Economy magazine featured some of her work in 2009.


The Life of Dr. Ruth Ella Moore


Quick Facts of Dr. Ruth Ella Moore being presented on a projector. projector says "Why Ruth Ella Moore is the G.O.A.T with three bullet points which read: First Black Person to get a Ph.D. in bacteriology Spearheaded microbial inclusion by changing the department of bacteriology to microbiology  Was an incredible fashionista while also investigating M. tuberculosis

She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1903 and received her Ph.D. from Ohio State in 1933. To earn a little extra cash, REM, as she would later be known as, took a job teaching hygiene and English at Tennessee State College.

For reals though, why did the giant's every get rid of Hygiene class. They are disgusting!

She then went on to work at Howard University Medical College, where she was colleagues with another prominent black microbiologist Dr. Hildrus A. Poindexter. Dr. Poindexter was soon enlisted into WWII, and the spot for Head of the Department of Bacteriology was open for REM to take.


Her first decree, as the head, was to change the department name to Microbiology, a much more inclusive name for us. In 1973, she retired as an Associate Professor of Emeritus of Microbiology. Ruth Ella Moore passed away in 1994 at the age of 91.



R.E.M's Research



Her research focused mostly on Tuberculosis, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but included a number of other areas of research as well, including cavities, antibiotics, blood types, and immunology. During this time, Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, was a deadly disease. It was the second leading cause of death in the US. And at one point M. tuberculosis even convinced the giant's vampires might be real.


However, as you all know, M. tuberculosis is still on the Society of Symbionts' most wanted list. This is not a disease of the past, it's estimated that about 1.8 billion people in the world have latent TB and 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018. This disease is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacteria can then easily be transmitted to anyone near the infected person.


Coughing that produces blood or sputum is the most common sign of an active TB disease but weight loss, chest pains, weakness, and fever are also often seen.


Unlike in Ruth Ella Moore's time, Tuberculosis is much easier to diagnosed and treat today. However, the treatment is arduous. It includes a 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs which can have several side effects, like killing a lot of our comrades. But at least it will save the Giant's life. This antibiotic regimen saved 58 million Giants between 2000 and 2018.


One scary thing with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is that it's multidrug-resistant, many antibiotics do not kill this bacteria. As multidrug-resistant TB continues to rise, the efficacy of antibiotics goes down and new treatments are needed, making tuberculosis a continuing major global health crisis.


Very nice presentation Anna! I had a feeling Dr. Ruth Ella Moore would be perfect for you.
I mean she's alright I guess .


Well that concludes our micro series on Black Microbiologists. Be prepared for a quiz next week! Class dismissed.

If you have any thoughts about this topic, or if we missed something please let us know by leaving a comment or sending us an email, we'd love to hear from you!


If you liked this article and would like to read more about important black figures in microbiology, click on the links below.


  1. Onesimus: the black slave that helped to stop small pox

  2. William Augustus Hinton: First Black Harvard Professor and Syphilis Researcher

  3. Dr. Ruth Ella Moore: Fashionista, TB Researchers, First Black American to get a PhD in Bacteriology

  4. Dr. Harold Amos: First Microbiologist, Francophile, Teacher, Lover of Science!

  5. Jane Hinton- Co developer of Mueller-Hinton Agar, One of the first Black Americans to earn a VMD

  6. Jessie Isabelle Price: The Duck Doctor

  7. The Unethical Study That Never Should Have Happened

  8. Hell of a lot of HeLA Cells: The life and Legacy of the “Immortal” Black Women






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