Dr Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950)

Maker and role
Betsy Graves Reyneau (b.1888, d.1964)
Production date

See full details


Dr Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950)
Oil on canvas, held at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation
Copyright: © Peter Edward Fayard
Dr Charles Drew, an African American surgeon, broke the barriers in a racially divided America to become one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. In 1938, Dr Drew developed a method for preserving blood plasma that allowed it to be stored for longer. His work into blood banks helped to save thousands of lives during the Second World War in America and Britain. He assisted with the ‘Blood for Britain’ programme, which collected blood to send to Britain to help injured soldiers and civilians. In 1941, Dr Drew became the first director of the American Red Cross blood bank.

In 1942, Dr Drew became the first black surgeon named on the examiner of the American Board of Surgery. Two years later, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) awarded him the Spingarn Medal for his work with blood transfusion. As an activist for racial equality, Dr Drew launched a movement to persuade the American Medical Association to admit black members.
Catalogue Number

Explore by colours

Object Types