McCune Smith inspires next generation of researchers

Kristyn A. Carter is a Ph.D. student at the University of Glasgow in the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation. After achieving her masters of Immunology at the University, she is continuing her studies, researching the underlying immune mechanisms of soft tissue diseases.

Kristyn Carter

Kristyn moved to Glasgow from the United States because she was inspired by the story of Dr. James McCune Smith.

McCune Smith was the first African American to achieve a medical degree, graduating from the University in 1837. The new £90.6 million learning and teaching hub, which is opening in September, will be named in his honour.

Coming across the story of McCune Smith in Harriet Washington’s book ‘Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present’, Kristyn was inspired not only by his perseverance, but by his journey to Glasgow to pursue education.  

Kristyn said: “Coming from the States, unfortunately there aren’t a lot of black, or even black female physicians. I came across Harriet Washington’s book, ‘Medical Apartheid’, and learned about Dr McCune Smith’s story. Hearing about his story, being born into slavery, defeating that in a way, and travelling here to pursue education I thought if he can do that, I can do anything!”

Following in the footsteps of Dr McCune Smith, Kristyn applied to the University of Glasgow and was accepted into a Masters in Immunology. She now works in a Ph.D. position, researching Dupuytren's disease and is now well on her way to achieving her ambition of becoming an orthopaedic surgeon, focusing on understanding the immunobiology of soft tissue diseases. 

First published: 28 February 2020