Today’s spotlighted healthcare pioneer is Arnold Hamilton Maloney.
Arnold Hamilton Maloney was born in Trinidad in 1888 and became a highly respected pharmacologist who discovered an antidote for barbiturate poisoning. Dr. Maloney became the first African American professor of pharmacology in the nation and only the second person of African descent to obtain both a medical degree and a doctorate of philosophy in the United States.
Dr. Maloney studied at Naparima College in Trinidad, which is affiliated with Cambridge University, England, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1909. He then immigrated to the United States and attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
In 1910, he received his master’s degree from Columbia University and a B.S. in theology from the General Theological Seminary, New York, in 1912. He began his ministry at age 23 with the distinction of being the youngest minister in the Protestant Episcopal Church.
After practicing for several years, Maloney felt that the Episcopal Church was neglecting young Black men. A suggestion he made prompted the church to establish St. Augustine in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a college for Black youth.
After leaving the ministry, Maloney became a professor of psychology at Wilberforce University in Ohio. He continued his education entering Indiana University School of Medicine in 1925, graduating with a medical degree in 1929. He then attended the University of Wisconsin, where he engaged in research in pharmacology, earning a doctorate in this field in 1931.
Upon accepting a position at Howard University in the same year, he also became the first African American professor of pharmacology in the United States.
From 1931 until 1953, Maloney worked in the Department of Pharmacology at Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. eventually becoming head of the department.
Dr. Maloney’s research involved several areas of pharmacology, but his most important work was the discovery of an antidote for barbiturate overdose. Dr. Maloney determined that administering picrotoxin (a potentially lethal poison) quickly reversed these symptoms. His first paper on this subject was published in 1931.
Dr. Maloney was a member of many societies and several medical associations, including the American Negro Academy, American Academy of Political Sciences and the National Medical Association. Maloney died in Washington, D.C., on August 8, 1955.