Alma Levant Hayden

Black and white photograph of Alma Hayden working in a laboratory

Alma Levant Hayden. Office of NIH History.

(1927-1967)  Alma Levant was born in Greenville, SC.  She graduated from South Carolina State College and earned a master's degree in chemistry from Howard University.  

Alma was one of the first African-American women to gain a scientist position at the National Institutes of Health and soon became an expert in spectrophotometry, the measurement of how substances absorb light. Alma was appointed Chief of the Spectrophotometer Research Branch at the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and may have been the first African-American scientist at the FDA. Alma led the team that exposed the common substance in Krebiozen, a controversial and expensive drug promoted as anti-cancer, was not a cure for cancer and could not be marketed as a cure for cancer.

Hayden married a fellow NIH research chemist, Alonzo R. Hayden and had two children.  Alma Hayden died of cancer.