How one scientist averted a national health crisis - Andrea Tone

  • Published on Jun 7, 2018
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    In 1960, Frances Kelsey was one of the Food and Drug Administration’s newest recruits. Before the year was out, she would begin a fight that would save thousands of lives - though no one knew it at the time. Andrea Tone explains how Kelsey was able to prevent a massive national public health tragedy by privileging facts over opinions, and patience over short-cuts.
    Lesson by Andrea Tone, animation by TED-Ed.
    Thank you so much to our patrons for your support! Without you this video would not be possible! Claudia Mayfield, Justus Berberich, Pavel Zalevskiy, Yankai Liu, Duo Xu, Ghassan Alhazzaa, Miloš Stevanović, Joy Love Om, Gi Nam Lee, Shawn Quichocho, Simone Kidner, Anika Westburg, Barun Padhy, Brandy Jones, Devin Harris, Tony Trapuzzano, Stephen Michael Alvarez, Tom Lee, Juliana, Jason Weinstein, Kris Siverhus, Alexander Walls, Annamaria Szilagyi, Morgan Williams, Abhijit Kiran Valluri, Mandeep Singh, Sama aafghani, سلطان الخليفي, Marylise CHAUFFETON, Marvin Vizuett, Jayant Sahewal, Quinn Shen, Caleb ross, Elizabeth Cruz, Elnathan Joshua Bangayan, Gaurav Rana, Mullaiarasu Sundaramurthy, Jose Henrique Leopoldo e Silva, Dan Paterniti, Jerome Froelich, Tyler Yoshizumi, Martin Stephen, Justin Carpani, Faiza Imtiaz, Khalifa Alhulail, Tejas Dc, Benjamin & Shannon Pinder, Srikote Naewchampa, Ex Foedus, and Sage Curie.

Comments • 1 580

  • TED-Ed
    TED-Ed  8 months ago +728

    If you're a student with a passion for science, share your ideas, discoveries and hopes with the world through TED's student idea platform: If your passions lie elsewhere, we want to hear from you, too! TED-Ed is creating a space to celebrate and amplify student ideas on a wide range of topics - from human rights to staying organized in school - and we want you to be a part of it! Check it out!

    • MadGirl BitchingBoutStuffs
      MadGirl BitchingBoutStuffs 19 days ago

      You forgot:
      "except of course, if you are a guy. Then we don't want you."

    • OOOF exe
      OOOF exe 28 days ago

      Nope they dont care weather you have a passion or not only if you do what they say and make me money

    • Alex Erhan
      Alex Erhan 2 months ago

      Ted Ed = prickly Philadelphia

    • Arnav Kelkar
      Arnav Kelkar 5 months ago

      TED-Ed (

  • Drew James
    Drew James 44 minutes ago

    I support women in STEM. But they should do it because they can, not because they are women. Nonetheless, they must be upheld and appreciated for what they do. On the other hand, gender studies is nowhere near respectable or worthy of recognition at all.

  • riptiderobin15
    riptiderobin15 2 days ago

    I think it should be a woman's right to choose which field of study she would like to go into. And if she doesn't want to go into a stem related field then that's on her. It's not the worlds fault that wemon are underrepresented in that field. This SJW stuff really kills any good message.

  • Jorge W
    Jorge W 6 days ago

    Nossa, fui rever esse vídeo depois de mais de um ano e percebi que por engano eu tinha dado deslike, ainda bem q eu voltei pra corrigir

  • Ishika -
    Ishika - 9 days ago +1

    She's an inspiration ❤

  • That Random Scottish Laddie

    And she's today's unsung badass of history

  • BosniaBROGaming
    BosniaBROGaming 12 days ago

    Good i agree

  • what am I doing ?
    what am I doing ? 16 days ago

    Still waiting for ted

  • Charlie Reeder
    Charlie Reeder 19 days ago

    amazing story! had to turn it off when it got near the end about women earning less pay tho...

  • Michael Fixedsys
    Michael Fixedsys 19 days ago

    Mrs.Kelsey wasn't just a badass
    she was a badass who did her job, and did it well!

  • David Perrier
    David Perrier 19 days ago

    If this happened today, Republicans would be trying to get Thalidomide approved because big government was unfairly rejected a drug that is obviously healthy.

  • Ankur Mukherjee
    Ankur Mukherjee 20 days ago

    Some always complain about less representation of women in stem field but do not talk their representation in the jobs of firefighters,police etc.They also do not say anything about more representation of women in the jobs like teaching , medical field ,law etc. Is not all job should be respected equally ?

  • Opticendymion 96
    Opticendymion 96 21 day ago

    i don't think i was paying enough attention

  • red x17
    red x17 22 days ago

    women on average dont like stem fields. get that through your thick head

  • Googal Nano Tanr
    Googal Nano Tanr 22 days ago

    Anti vaxxers will use this as evidence

  • Georgia Peeches
    Georgia Peeches 25 days ago

    4:37 no she was almost ruined due to monopolies. She would have never gotten an award and gotten FDA backing if it was sexist.

  • Flippish Pinoy
    Flippish Pinoy 25 days ago

    not for long weed is already legal

  • Kyle Ackerson
    Kyle Ackerson 26 days ago +1

    Beautiful story

  • sweiland75
    sweiland75 26 days ago

    How one scientist averted a -national- American health crisis

  • sarupi
    sarupi 26 days ago

    Imagine all the people that could have die if she doesn't hide his female name in the application

  • BSD Fan
    BSD Fan 27 days ago

    I already know what this videos about...
    Blah blah blah... someone cleans up hospitals... blah blah blah... she prevents patients and doctors from getting sick because of how grimy the hospitals were... blah blah BLAH..!

  • Nightmare Dragon
    Nightmare Dragon 28 days ago

    She was so important, but not many know what she did these days.

  • The Generalist
    The Generalist 28 days ago

    Well done.

  • casey/emil c:
    casey/emil c: Month ago

    hah my profile picture

  • Robert A
    Robert A Month ago

    How has no one pointed out that she was 101 years old when she died?

  • KaiserAfini
    KaiserAfini Month ago

    A great professional does not let anything stop them from delivering methodical assessments and putting the welfare of the public first. Dr Kelsey is an inspiration to all fields, not just pharmacology.

  • Black Hatred
    Black Hatred Month ago

    Bro, she was 101

  • Crista D.
    Crista D. Month ago

    Amazing how many microd*cks got triggered by the ending of the video. The comment section is hilarious.

    • Crista D.
      Crista D. 22 days ago

      +Dr Vertigo thanks cap

    • Dr Vertigo
      Dr Vertigo 22 days ago

      you know you dont have to censor your self

  • Matriks
    Matriks Month ago

    And that man, was Eren jaegers dad

  • Imperator Augustus
    Imperator Augustus Month ago +2

    Women disproportionately represented in STEM fields? What could this mean? Gender bias, of course; just like in the 1930's! The video was great until this part. I don't think I've ever hit my face harder than in the end there.

  • Saiki Chan
    Saiki Chan Month ago

    Wow 101 years old

  • Bobby C
    Bobby C Month ago

    This is egalitarianism done right. If you want women to receive the same recognition as men, then don't qualify their achievements with epithets describing their gender.

  • Jock McBile
    Jock McBile Month ago

    A great story. It is sad, we haven't moved on much, but we are heading in the right direction. Thank you to Dr. Kelsey

  • Dyzinel
    Dyzinel Month ago

    She really was amazing and badass huh.

  • sapplejax
    sapplejax Month ago +1

    What a legend of a human. Amazing.

  • SilverS Gaming
    SilverS Gaming Month ago

    She spent her live saving many of those in her time and many more in the future.
    Truly a hero.

  • Hecatia Lapislazuli

    There USclip, I finally watched it. Now stop reccomending it.

  • xXxMartin96xXx
    xXxMartin96xXx Month ago

    "Yet women are underepresented in STEM fields. Why?"
    Maybe because not enough girls want to study STEM?

  • zeldafreak701
    zeldafreak701 Month ago

    Good God, just think if you parents were born around that time, they could've been subject to these horrible diseases!
    That being said, TED, please let's just focus on the accomplishments of this lady and not push this SJW nonsense. This is a different time and women most certainly are not subject to gender biases in the STEM field. They're just underrepresented because not enough of them want to a STEM career. If you're going to go that route, then let's talk about how males are underrepresented in fields such as education and nursing.

  • AlchemistOfNirnroot

    I remember this from GCSE bio...

  • napstrike
    napstrike Month ago

    It is believed that only USA and Turkey managed to stay away from this dangerous drug. In the Turkish front, the Distinguished Prof. Dr. Süreyya Tahsin Aygün was working on stem cells and investigated the drug. He noticed that it would have adverse effects on pregnant women (since it was his field of work), and informed the ministry of health. The ministry of health banned the drug and saved the nation. However,
    Kelsey was declared a hero in the USA, while some idiots tried to declare Aygun as a charlatan in Turkey. Only when the Germans named an institute after him, the nation learned the truth about him.

  • DinoWolf35
    DinoWolf35 Month ago

    You had me until the end when you go on about STEM, there is actually a preference of taking girls over boys into STEM so the reason there aren't so many girls is because not that many girls are applying

  • indeepj
    indeepj Month ago

    Is She Still Alive?

  • Isaac Mikola
    Isaac Mikola Month ago

    It kind of reminds me of a famous picture of Madam Curie sitting with Einstein, Schrodinger, and a lot of other famous scientists in the Solvay Conference picture. She had a trench coat on.

  • megannnjay
    megannnjay Month ago

    What a freaking cool lady

  • The Dark Musket
    The Dark Musket Month ago +1

    You guys just had to make it political in the end, but still gave the video a like for the main content

  • Tyler Mustard
    Tyler Mustard Month ago

    women are less represented in STEM because less women are in STEM

  • Mysty Draco
    Mysty Draco Month ago

    F-F-facts over opinions???

  • Pinochet
    Pinochet Month ago +1

    Thanks TED-ED, very cool!

  • nah fool
    nah fool Month ago

    Badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass

  • The Furriner794
    The Furriner794 Month ago +1

    If we had her today, maybe Big Pharma wouldn't be as greedy and dangerous, and produce drugs that create Autism.
    We need another Francis Kelsey, quick.

  • TrueUser025
    TrueUser025 Month ago

    Women are underrepresented in STEM fields because less women choose to work there.
    You don't see men complaining about being underrepresented in schools or psychology etc because they also choose not to work there

  • FlammieLL
    FlammieLL Month ago

    I love finding rare gems like these.
    History is full of interesting people like these who changed the world, for the BETTER!

  • Max Bowen
    Max Bowen Month ago

    Anyone else finally figure out what that lyric was in didn’t start the fire

  • Road to 1000 hours of piano in 1 year

    How one Teemo adverted a backdoor crisis by building full AP and placing shrooms all over his base. (Assuming, of course, that such base had at least one inhibitor down and no towers at all, not even nexus turrets).

  • Conman
    Conman Month ago

    Its not that women are underrepresented in stem today, its that less women are interested in it

  • StonedRazor mrSaltyWater

    Next up: a brief history of cheese. yurt

  • Wyatt
    Wyatt Month ago

    Good video, too bad you had to stuck in liberal propaganda in the very end. Disliked.

  • jmsloss
    jmsloss Month ago

    God had her in the right place, at the right time, to do the right thing...

  • Vincent Krull
    Vincent Krull Month ago

    FDA: The Federal Dookie Association

  • Jovan Lee
    Jovan Lee Month ago

    While everyone thanked her. Can we thank all those in your FDA that supported her?

  • Witherman1
    Witherman1 Month ago

    I do wonder how many people born with disabilities could have lived normal lives if not for things we put in our water and food.

  • Nerd
    Nerd Month ago +3

    I saw the title, I knew it was Thalidomide.
    Frances Oldham Kelsey was a legend. What she did left a mark in history. I am so proud of her. I will forever be grateful to Kelsey.

  • DarkWorld25
    DarkWorld25 Month ago

    Well uhh, I'm pretty sure that it was an Australian Scientist that banned it, correct me if I'm wrong tho

  • A Random Rock
    A Random Rock Month ago

    Graduated at 15? I was a freshman at 14-15.

  • Zzul Ma
    Zzul Ma Month ago

    So touching

  • Annabel Morimoto
    Annabel Morimoto Month ago

    Knew it was her just by the title!
    I learned about her in my Chemistry class. She's so cool!!

  • Laura isanbaeva
    Laura isanbaeva Month ago +1

    Women are underrated in STEM fields because women aren't interested in STEM. If you want to actually help, seek out young girls and encourage them. Christ.

  • The Reprehensible
    The Reprehensible Month ago +1

    "Affirmative action" would like to know your location.

  • josh rixon
    josh rixon Month ago

    I wanna hear about more good stories like this. Thank you Ted-ed.

  • J M
    J M Month ago +1

    Sorry. Stopped caring when it turned into "blah blah blah feminism blah blah blah men doctors blah blah superiority blah."

  • Marco Glaner
    Marco Glaner Month ago

    Good stuff

  • JAKphoenixify
    JAKphoenixify Month ago +1

    I love how people calmly ignore the fact that the FDA openly supported Kelsey despite corporate shilling.

  • Ratyr
    Ratyr Month ago

    Nowadays, Thalidomide is used *extremely* sparingly. Thanks to Frances, Thalidomide was prevented from showing up on the US market before its effects were truly understood, and by the grace of God, the FDA supported her.
    As a result, we've had the time and reason to figure out what Thalidomide can cause and now, with very careful regulation (especially when it comes to pregnancy) it is used for a select few of diseases, like a certain cancer and leprosy complications.
    Thanks to all of these early pioneers in Thalidomide's history who rejected the drug or sought further testing, many people have been prevented from being born deformed or dead.
    Thalidomide's past use was a disaster, but it could have been much, much worse.

  • Lexi Barrow
    Lexi Barrow Month ago

    I actually learned about Thalidomide in Biology, and we learned about the damages it had on children throughout the UK.

  • Spikey Plant
    Spikey Plant Month ago

    Germans, eh? Guess old habits die hard.

    It's not that serious 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • Darling Jewel
    Darling Jewel Month ago

    Thank you so much. I have aunts and uncles and my mom who were all born in the 50s and 60s. Without you they might not be here.

  • Petitio Principii
    Petitio Principii Month ago

    This is another example of how those conspiracy theories of "hidden cures" kept secret by the big pharma are plain BS. More likely they'll be trying to push into the market things that don't work, don't quite work, or with too many adverse effects. That's the closest thing to a "conspiracy theory" that there is. TED has an interesting presentation on the subject, by Ben Goldacre: _"What doctors don't know about the drugs they prescribe"_

    It's also mentioned in some regard or another in a the series "calling BS in the age of big data":

  • Itsa Games
    Itsa Games Month ago

    well, thank you Frances!

  • Grayson Goss
    Grayson Goss Month ago

    Love how five angry people only have two arms.

  • K
    K Month ago

    Thank you for the excellent video!

  • Joseph Grey
    Joseph Grey Month ago


  • Gilda Hobbs
    Gilda Hobbs Month ago +1

    Growing up in Germany, I've heard the story of Thalidomide many times, but always as a depressing and haunting tragedy.
    Glad to hear so many people could be saved and this story could become the remarkably impressive inspiration we see here!
    Frances is a true hero.

  • Shoto Todoroki
    Shoto Todoroki Month ago

    She’s cool.

  • Bakpfeife
    Bakpfeife Month ago

    Good thing till the preachy end that just doesn't factor in psychology or any other measurement than the underrepresentation in stem fields.

  • Communist Furry
    Communist Furry Month ago

    Capitalism™ - Sacrificing morality for profit.

  • Thomas Martinez
    Thomas Martinez Month ago

    + Apocalypse averted

  • BladeOfLight16
    BladeOfLight16 Month ago

    Thank you, Mrs. Kelsey.
    As for why women are don't make up nearly 50% of STEM, maybe take a page out of Kelsey's handbook and look at the data:

  • Scott-E
    Scott-E Month ago

    FINE USclip

  • Justin K.
    Justin K. Month ago +1

    Mm hmm women was not accepted yet i think

  • Cyphon
    Cyphon Month ago


  • Jlfreedom
    Jlfreedom Month ago

    Wait even after thalidomide's side were discovered the company tried for 7 more months to get it approved!?!? Wow talk about terrible people

  • Lord TouchMe
    Lord TouchMe Month ago

    So she did her Job? I feel the people who think this is great are the ones who passed with George Bushes No child left behind ac. Also the adults who think their younger generation lacks confidence so they promote new like this instead of saying give a 110% and do better than your peers

  • Crazilily
    Crazilily Month ago

    Wait did i just watch a five minute advertisment

  • Worshipper_of_Kek
    Worshipper_of_Kek Month ago

    I hered about this on Call the Midwife.

  • Vence Ibul
    Vence Ibul Month ago

    Thank you Francis K.

  • Raiden the cyborg
    Raiden the cyborg Month ago

    The show ends at 4:38

  • Hot Pinecone
    Hot Pinecone Month ago

    Kelsey:Ayy thanks for this drug I'll test it
    Kelsey:This is bad for you
    German Company:NO IS NOT (x7)

  • hbarudi
    hbarudi Month ago

    So they didn't have pregnancy category levels back in 1960? Something that is considered standard today. Thanks for that to help women decide on medications and for doctors to adjust prescriptions accordingly. Also good that the FDA accepted the decision and not relied on the corporations trying to sell more of the medication.

  • TextBox green _plakat everything

    Badass women around.