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Beatrix A. Hamburg (October 19, 1923[1] – April 15, 2018) was an American psychiatrist whose long career in academic medicine advanced the field of child and adolescent psychiatry. Hamburg was the first African-American to attend Vassar College, and was also the first African-American woman to attend Yale Medical School. Hamburg held professorships at Stanford, Harvard, Mt. Sinai and—most recently—at Weill Cornell Medical College. She was on the President's Commission on Mental Health under President Jimmy Carter. Hamburg was formerly president of the William T. Grant Foundation, and also directed the child psychiatry divisions at Stanford University and Mount Sinai.[2] She originally, was going to go into pediatric medicine, but instead found herself interested in psychiatry.[2] She has done research on early adolescence, peer counseling, and diabetic children and adolescents.[3] She was a member of the National Academy of Medicine[4] and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[5] She received a Foremother Award for her lifetime of accomplishments from the National Research Center for Women & Families in 2012.[6]

Hamburg was married to David A. Hamburg, an academic physician who has done mental health research, and the two collaborated on many projects during their careers.


Early lifeEdit

Beatrix Ann McCleary was born to Minor McCleary and Beatrix Ann Downs on October 19th, 1923 in Jacksonville, Florida.[7] Her father was a surgeon who passed away when she was young. Shortly after his death, they moved to Long Island in New York, to be with her maternal grandparents. There, she was raised by her widowed mother and her grandparents. Her mother was a school teacher and a social worker while her grandfather was a Methodist minister and her grandmother was a homemaker.[2] Her upbringing had a heavy emphasis on the importance of education.

Career and researchEdit

Hamburg had an extensive career in the area of medical psychiatry. She worked in the medical psychiatry departments of Stanford University, Harvard University, Mount Sinai, Icahn School of Medicine, and Weill Cornell Medical College at various points in her life. She focused most of her work on the stages of adolescence and the struggles that adolescents must overcome.[2] She also advocated for peer counseling for teens in the 1960s and 1970s. She believed that adolescents benefit more from advising one another, rather than an from authority figure. They would tutor each other on many issues, such as academics, social issues, mental health and volunteer opportunities.[7] She also researched about the effects of stress and related coping mechanisms with her husband. The stress factors they studied included anything from physical stress and depression to poverty and war. In 2004, they co-authored a book called “Learning to Live Together: Preventing Hatred and Violence in Child and Adolescent Development.”[2] This book focused on teaching children how to cope with and overcome hatred in healthy ways. She researched about how stress factors like diabetes and teen pregnancy could affect childhood development and subsequently, how this affects them as adults.[7]

Hamburg and her husband were in similar career paths and later collaborated on many projects. They received the 2007 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Award in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine for their long careers in medicine and public service,[8][9] while in October 2015, the couple received the Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in recognition of their contributions to the understanding of mental health.[10]

She received the Foremother Award from the National Center for Health Research in 2012 for her contributions to the community. [11]

Personal lifeEdit

Hamburg met her future husband David, an academic physician who has done mental health research, when they were both students at Yale University in 1948. The two married in 1951,[10] and have two children: Eric, a filmmaker, and Margaret, a physician who served as Food and Drug Administration commissioner under President Barack Obama.[7][12]

Hamburg died on April 15, 2018, at the age of 94.[13] She died at her daughter's home, probably due to Alzheimer’s.[2]


  1. ^ Sleeman, Elizabeth (2001). The International Who's Who of Women 2002. Routledge. p. 330. ISBN 1857431227.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Silverman, Ellie (2018-04-18). "Beatrix Hamburg, adolescent psychiatrist who advanced concept of peer counseling, dies at 94". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  3. ^ "National Academy of Sciences". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "Beatrix A. Hamburg". Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  5. ^ Beatrix Hamburg
  6. ^ "2012 Foremother Awards and Health Policy Hero Luncheon", National Center for Health Research.
  7. ^ a b c d Genzlinger, Neil (2018-04-19). "Beatrix Hamburg, Barrier-Breaking Scholar, Is Dead at 94". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  8. ^ "Margaret Hamburg". Changinging the Face of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  9. ^ Gold, Lauren Gold (October 25, 2007). "Sarnat Award recognizes David and Beatrix Hamburg". Cornell Chronicle. Cornell University. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Drs. Beatrix and David Hamburg awarded 2015 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health | Yale School of Medicine". Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Commissioner's Page". About FDA. United States Food and Drug Administration. July 19, 2011. Archived from the original on July 29, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  13. ^ Beatrix Hamburg, adolescent psychiatrist who advanced concept of peer counseling, dies at 94

External linksEdit