By Sandra M. Fábregas, Ph.D
Dr. Nydia M. King became the first woman to preside the American Institute for the History of Pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy in the University of Wisconsin in 1981 after a long and committed participationin the field of pharmacy history education and research. Also important was her significant collaboration within the Institute´s governance during different periods from 1966 through 1983. Since 1964, and even after her retirement in 1980 from the School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico, she served as contributing editor for the International Pharmaceutical Abstracts.
Born onJanuary 7, 1925 in Ponce, a specially historical Puerto Rican city, founded in 1692 by the Spaniards and with a long tradition of pharmacy services, doctor King fell in love with pharmacy during her years in High School in which she made errands by different community pharmacies. Later on, she also became interested in phytochemistry, her first specialty as researcher and that was stimulatedduring her years in the School of Pharmacy in the University of Puerto Rico by Dr. Luis Torres Díaz, Dean at the time and a historian himself.
Dr. King earned her Bachelor in Pharmaceutical Sciences degree from the School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico in 1949 Magna Cum Laude. Later she received a grant from the that same university and was able to complete a Master In Science degreein Pharmacy and a Ph.D. in Philosophy with a major in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the School of Pharmacy of the University of Wisconsin in 1950 and 1954 respectively. In a world still dominated by men in Academia, she then became the first female faculty member in the School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico, and the first female alumni of that School of Pharmacy to hold a doctoraldegree.
From 1955 to 1959, doctor King acted as Research Assistant and Assistant Professor in the School of Pharmacy of the University of Puerto Rico. Upon her arrival to the School in 1954, she was invited by the Dean, Dr. Luis Torres Díaz, to take over the pharmacy history course he was teaching. This was a time of professional dilemmas for doctor King since her main area of specialty wasphytochemistry. She decided to work in both areas. She worked in phytochemical research until 1974. Her publications in this area were:
“ A note on the Isolation of Ursolic Acid from Verbena stricta Vent., J.A.Ph.A., Sc.ed.,39, 595 (1950)-
“ The Analytical Determination of Cantharidin in Cantharides”, Summaries of Doctoral Dissertations, University of Wisconsin, 1954, p.457
“Isolation of Physcionform Ditremexa occidentalis,L”, J.A.Ph.A., Sc.ed.,4, 271, (1957)
“Investigación Química de la Hojas de Saúco Amarillo”, Boletín del Colegio de Químicos de Puerto Rico, 15, 3 (1958)
“A Note on the Phytochemical Investigation of Cecropia peltata,L., J.A.Ph.A, Sc.ed.., 48, 129 (1959)
“ Análisis Químico Preliminar de las Hojas de Chrysophyllum caimito,L., Análisis Cromatográfico de la MateriaInsaponificalbe”, Revista del Colegio de Químicos de Puertro Rico, 18, 15 (1961).
“Investigación Fitoquímica Preliminar de la Berenjena Cimarrona”, Revista del Colegio de Químicos de Puerto Rico, 21, 12 (1963)
“Aspectos Generales Sobre Investigación Fotoquímica”, Revista Farmacéutica de Puerto Rico, 26, 11 (1962).
As her passion and commitment for pharmacy history research grew. it becameimperative for doctor King to seek more formal education in the area. During the academic year 1965-1966, she became a special fellow at the National Library of Medicine (Bethesda, Maryland) to conduct research in the history of pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin under the guidance of the distinguished historian and writer, Dr. Glenn Sonnedecker. During that time she worked on the History of...