Caroline Amelia Osborne, M.D., completes a Ph.D. in biology at Clark with a dissertation titled “The sleep of infancy as related to physical and mental growth.” But it was her 1907 master’s thesis, “The cat, a neglected factor in sanitary science,” that caught the media's attention. Her investigation into the connection between house cats and human health was featured in publications as diverse as Good Housekeeping magazine, the Christian Advocate, Health in Rural Schools, and the Medical Standard. Before coming to Clark, Osborne had pursued a medical career, working first as a nurse. Then, in 1899, she received her M.D. from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first institution in the U.S. to provide such training for women. After graduation, she served as superintendent of nurses and instructor in the nurses’ training program at Worcester Memorial Hospital (now UMass Memorial Hospital). The medical profession was slow to accept women as physicians, and the list of the 26 doctors on the hospital staff in 1899 included only two females, Osborne and a gynecologist. Before her death in 1927 at the age of 61, Osborne also operated a private practice and worked at the Hospital Cottage for Children in Baldwinville, a small village in her hometown of Templeton, northwest of Worcester. For many years Osborne resided in the Clark neighborhood with sisters Henrietta, an artist with an advertising firm, and Lucy, who taught at a trade school. They are buried in Green Bower Cemetery in Gardner, Massachusetts.
Above, left image: Osborne and a colleague dissecting a cadaver at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, courtesy of Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine. Background image: Worcester Memorial Hospital in 1903, courtesy of University of Massachusetts Medical School Archives, Lamar Soutter Library, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. Inset: cover of the July 1908 issue of Good Housekeeping that cited Osborne’s research on cats.
Clark continues to reaffirm its commitment to research and education in the biological sciences at the Cathy '83 and Marc '81 Lasry Center for Bioscience, a 50,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, and the first building in Worcester to receive LEED Gold certification.
Did You Know?
Recent research on a potential link between the cat-borne parasite Toxoplasma gondii and mental illness in humans was the subject of an article in the March 2012 issue of The Atlantic, titled "How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy."