Google Doodle honors haematologist Lucy Wills on her 131st birthday

Friday's Google Doodle celebrates the 131st birthday of heamatologist Lucy Wills, an English haematologist whose early research in prevention of prenatal anemia helped in the identification of folic acid as a supplement for pregnant women.


Lucy Wills was born on 10 May 1988 in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham in the United Kingdom; Lucy Wills’s analysis of prenatal anemia modified the face of preventive prenatal care for women all over the world. The doodle honoring the researcher on her birthday shows the famous hematologist in a laboratory and also portrays some pieces of bread and a cup of tea on her table.


Lucy Wills studied in three institutions in England that were at the forefront of educating women — Cheltenham College for Young Ladies which is one of the first British boarding schools to train female students in science and mathematics; Cambridge University’s Newnham College; In 1911, she earned first honors in botany and geology at Cambridge University’s Newnham College and the London School of Medicine for Women which was the first school in Britain to train female doctors.


After receiving her licence, Wills travelled to Bombay, where she did her research on a life-threatening form of anemia which was observed in pregnant textile workers. The condition, known as macrocytic anemia, caused the red blood cells to become larger than normal during pregnancy.


Women in Mumbai in the 1920s were dying during pregnancy in alarming numbers, demolished by a blood deficiency called anemia. Under the microscope, their red blood cells were swollen and enlarged, and they weren't carrying nearly enough hemoglobin, the protein in the blood that transports oxygen. Wills noticed a link between women's diets and their risk of anemia during pregnancy, and she realized that a shortage of one nutrient in particular was causing the deadly anemia; she just had to figure out which nutrient. Identifying poor nutrition as a probable cause, Wills conducted research on monkeys, feeding them the British breakfast spread Marmite, made of yeast extract. The monkey's health improved, and the discovery came to be known as the ‘Wills factor’.


Lucy Wills spent her life travelling the world and researching on health of pregnant women up to the time of her death on April 16, 1964.


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