Sunday, February 10, 2013

Black Women in History: Medical History- Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, an Old Westbury college executive
Photo Credit: David Pokress,

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee is often overshadowed by her younger sister, entertainer Diana Ross, but her accomplishments in medicine community truly set her apart. Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee was;postID=5180312880983095159 the first black woman to be appointed dean of an American Medical school and she continues to be one of the most influential African American Women in the field of Medicine.

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee is a Detroit native who was born June 1, 1942.   She was the oldest of six children, which included singer Diana Ross. Like her baby sis, she did not let her then circumstance, growing up in the Brewster Project in Detroit, determine the path of her future.

After attending  Cass Technical High School in Detroit, graduating in 1960, Ross-Lee attending Wayne State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry in 1965.  She briefly abandoned medicine and had a short teaching career through the National Teaching Corps program where she earned an Master in the Arts of Teaching Special Populations from Wayne State University while teaching in the Detroit Public School System.  In  1973 Ross-Lee received her Doctorate in the field of Osteopathic medicine from Michigan State University. After ten years of running a family practice in Detroit from 1973-1983, she joined the US Navy as a physician and Michigan State University as a professor in the Department of Family Practice.

In 1993 Ross- Lee was appointed the dean of the College of Osteopathic medicine of Ohio University, thus making her the first African American Woman dean of an American Medical School and one of only a few women deans in the whole country.  She continues to make strides in the medical field, and most recently in 2011 joined a panel of experts to discuss and advocate for changes in health care and policies.

Some of her other career accomplishments include-

1984 Joined U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a consultant on education in the health professions
1990-1993 Community Representative for the Governor's Minority Health Advisory Committee in Michigan
1991 First osteopathic physician fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship Program
1993 First African American Woman to be the dean of an American Medical School at Ohio University
2001 Appointed Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs at the New York Institute of Technology
Photo from
2002 Appointed Dean of Dean of New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine

Not only has she achieved so much in the field of Osteopathic Medicine she has successfully co-parented five children with her husband Edmond Beverly.  She is a priceless inspiration.


Not really sure about her hair journey. But by the photos that I have been able to locate through my searching online, she, as her sister Diana has beautiful thick tresses that she wears in soft curls that frame her face perfectly. .

Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee shows us that anything is possible with determination and a great work ethic.

Najeema Iman, I AM Curly Locks
"I believe in Kingdom blogging!"

Sources: On the web Changing the Face of Medicine, The History Makers

Originally Posted: February 2011
Updated: February 10, 2013


  1. Wow!, who knew! Dr. Barbara is a true inspiration, thanks for posting this.

  2. I suggest you make changes to your description. She received a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree from Michigan State University College of OSTEOPATHiC Medicine. Not ORTHOPEDIC, there is no such thing. Please change this information. She is now the Vice President of Health Sciences and Medical Affairs at NYIT, where I am a student at their medical school (New York College of OSTEOPATHIC medicine). We absolutely love her and like to see her history represented correctly.

    1. Thank you for the information will update this post immediately.