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Alice Ball, Yakichi Kutsunai and Tomoso Imai

Alice Ball scholarship honors pioneering chemist in fight against Hansen’s disease

The University of Hawaiʻi honors the remarkable achievements of Alice Ball, the university’s first African American chemist, instructor and researcher as well as the first woman to earn a master’s degree from UH (then known as Hawaiʻi College) in 1915.

The Alice Augusta Ball endowed scholarship provides support to full- or part-time UH Mānoa students in the College of Natural Sciences pursuing a degree in chemistry, biology or microbiology. The funds will go toward tuition, books, fees and more.

Ball is best known for her breakthrough method of treating Hansen’s disease. She developed the technique to isolate and extract the active ingredients in chaulmoogra oil, which could then be injected into patients. The “Ball Method” solved a mystery that had been eluding scientists and doctors for centuries and resulted in the discharge of Hansen’s patients from hospitals and isolation facilities like Kalaupapa.

Tragically, Ball was never able to see the remarkable results of her work. She passed away in 1916 at the age of 24. She was awarded the Regent’s Medal of Distinction in 2007, which honors individuals of exceptional accomplishment and distinction who have made significant contributions to the university, state, region or nation or within their field of endeavor.

Ball was featured in the 100 Years of Women at UH Mānoa walking tour created by the women’s studies department.

“We are incredibly proud of Alice Ball and are grateful to the people, many within our institution, who worked so hard over these past decades to research and bring forward her remarkable history and accomplishments after so many years,” said UH President David Lassner.

Read more about Ball on the UH Foundation website.

Source: A UH News story