Jewel Plummer Cobb, American biologist, Died at 92


Jewel Plummer Cobb was born on January 17, 1924, and died on January 1, 2017.

She was a distinguished American biologist, cancer researcher, and academic administrator.

Cobb served as president of California State University, Fullerton from 1981 to 1990.

Her parents were Frank V. Plummer, and Carriebel (Cole) Plummer.

She was the great-granddaughter of a freed slave.

Cobb’s grandfather was a pharmacist, her father Frank was a physician.

Cobb mother Carriebel was a physical education teacher.

She enjoyed an upper-middle-class background and had access to her father’s library, which contained scientific journals.

Initially, she was denied a fellowship for graduate study in biology at New York University because of her race.

But, after a personal interview, Cobb was granted the fellowship.

Cobb received her M.S. degree from NYU in 1947 and her Ph.D. degree in cell physiology in 1950.

Cobb’s dissertation “Mechanisms of Pigment Formation” examined the way melanin pigment granules could be formed in vitro using the enzyme tyrosinase.

During 1949, Jewel Plummer Cobb was appointed an independent investigator at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.

He research included work on the relationship between melanin and skin damage, and on the effects of hormones, ultraviolet light, and chemotherapy agents on cell division.

She discovered that methotrexate was effective in the treatment of certain skin cancers, lung cancers, and childhood leukemia.

Jewel Plummer Cobb passed away at 92 years old.