Charles Drew Scholarship
Dr. William E. Connor (M.D.) and Sonja L. Connor (M.S., R.D., L.D.) have an international reputation for their research into how changes in diet can reverse high cholesterol and fat levels in the blood. These interests are what prompted the two scientists, scholars, and authors—who met at the University of Iowa in 1968 and married in London in 1969—to generously establish the Charles Drew Scholarship Fund in honor of a pioneering African-American doctor who did groundbreaking work in the science of blood storage.
Born in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 1904, Dr. Charles Richard Drew received a bachelor’s degree from Amherst University in 1926. He went on to complete his medical and master of surgery degrees at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, before completing a postgraduate fellowship at Columbia University in 1940.
Dr. Drew—who worked as a pathology professor and assistant in surgery at Howard University and as a professor of surgery and chief surgeon at Freedmen’s Hospital, the predecessor to Howard University Hospital—is responsible for revolutionizing the medical profession by creating a system for the storage of blood plasma. He organized a blood bank during World War II—eventually becoming the medical director of that organization, Plasma for Britain—and also established the American Red Cross blood bank, of which he was the first director. Though he died tragically in a car accident at the early age of 46, Dr. Drew was an exemplary medical leader who left a lasting legacy in the field of blood science.
The Connors established their gift for UI scholarships to honor this legacy. The two work at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine’s Division of Endocrinology: Dr. William Connor is a professor of medicine, and Sonja Connor is a research associate professor of medicine. Together, they developed the Cholesterol-Saturated Fat Index, a system that rates foods based on how they raise cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, the Connors co-wrote three best-selling cookbooks—The New American Diet, The New American Diet System, and The New American Diet Cookbook—and are currently developing a cookbook about nutrition to combat macular degeneration.
They hope their gift will inspire other graduates of the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine to transform the future by making significant contributions to medical education for minorities.
Congratulations on receiving the Charles Drew Scholarship