Doctor and Commander

Doctor and Commander

Dear Friends/Colleagues,

As I get closer to becoming the inaugural Stirewalt Endowed Director of the Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Stirewalt and her seminal work.

Margaret A. Stirewalt (later Lincicome), was born in 1911 and died in 2003. “Peg”, as she was known to those familiar with her, earned her BA at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1931, her MA at Columbia University, New York, in 1935, and her PhD from the University of Virginia in 1938. She was a Commander in the Navy and a Naval Medical Officer at the Naval Medical Research Institute and a scientist at the Biomedical Research Institute (BRI). Dr. Stirewalt had a distinguished career in teaching and research in schistosomes, which are some of the worst human-specific parasites on the planet. These accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering the era that Dr. Stirewalt lived in, which was generally unfriendly to female officers, let alone scientists. During her remarkable career, Dr. Stirewalt published numerous articles, including several landmark papers that have been cited over 170 times. She was world-renowned for the striking figures in her papers, including this electron micrograph of three schistosome cercariae (larvae, two of them marked with the letter “C”) crawling along the skin of a mouse ear, looking for a suitable entry site:


From Stirewalt and Dorsey, Exp Parasitol, 1974

Dr. Stirewalt also taught and mentored many of parasitology’s recent and current leaders, including Fred Lewis of BRI and Dan Colley from the University of Georgia. Dr. Stirewalt, with her husband Dr. David R. Lincicome, established the Harley Jones VanCleave Professorship in Life Sciences at the University of Illinois as a bequeathment. I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of yet another endowment in Dr. Stirewalt’s name. It is also my privilege to express my appreciation to Commander Stirewalt for her service to our nation. Isaac Newton spoke truly: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Thanks to Dr. Stirewalt, I hope to see that much further.