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Little-Known Black History Fact: Dr. Solomon Fuller

Date: Monday, March 01, 2010, 4:23 am

By: Erica Taylor, The Tom Joyner Morning Show

Of the 1,666 African-American psychiatrists in the country, a man named Solomon Carter Fuller was the first. The pioneer genius of Dr. Fuller led to intense work on Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1904, Dr. Alois Alzheimer invited five foreign doctors to be his graduate research assistants at the Royal Psychiatric Hospital in Germany. One of them was Dr. Fuller.

Dr. Fuller was a native of Liberia who moved to the states to attend Livingstone College in North Carolina. Once he became the nation’s first black psychiatrist, he took a job as a pathologist at Westborough State Hospital for the Insane.

After joining Alzheimer’s German team, Dr. Fuller examined the brain tissues of cadavers who had a variety of mental disorders. After more research, he found one that matched that of Alzheimer’s. From his findings, he reported that Alzheimer’s was an actual disease, which it hadn’t been determined before. The research proved to be crucial in the study of dementia, and Dr. Fuller made his mark in medical history.

Dr. Fuller became a teacher of pathology for the next 34 years until blindness caused by diabetes forced him to retire. Despite his condition, he practiced privately from his Boston home until he died in 1953.

In 1974, Boston University opened the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, which provides psychiatric outpatient services.