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Dolores Cooper Shockley (21 April 1930-10 October 2020)

The third of our scientists featured this Black History Month 2023 is Dolores Cooper Shockley whose work has inspired Dr Katherine Brimblecombe (Cragg Research Group).  

I was introduced to the work and life of Dr Shockley by Dr Lauren Burgeno and my immediate impression was that Dr Shockley had an incredible drive to not only achieve for herself, but to create a legacy that allows those after her to thrive. Investigating the interaction between L-type calcium channels and the dopamine-transporter has been central to my own research, and I was inspired by the clarity with which she writes about these interactions, whilst embracing the inconsistencies that arose when investigating these two elusive regulators of dopamine release.
- Dr Katherine Brimblecombe (Cragg Group)

 Picture of Dolores Stockley









Delores Cooper Shockley (21st April 1930-10th October 2020) was the first Black woman to receive a PhD in pharmacology in the United States1. At the start of her degree she was one of three women and roughly 100 men to study Pharmacy at Purdue University, and the only woman to complete a PhD in pharmacology2. Following earning her PhD, Dr Cooper received a Fulbright Fellowship to continue her research at the Pharmacology institute in Copenhagen1. Upon her return to the United States, she took up a position as a researcher and professor at Meharry Medical College, Tennessee, where she later became the first Black woman to chair a pharmacology department at an accredited medical school in the US3. Dr Shockley’s research focused on neurotoxicity; studying how pollutants including benzopyrene and fluoranthene affect the brain and behaviour, and also investigated potential antidotes to cocaine toxicity4. Dr Shockley was passionate about her role as a mother to her four children, and mentor to students3; and she states one of her biggest achievements was pushing for government support to allow researchers from under-represented communities to travel and work abroad2.