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.
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Comments • 1 252

  • TED-Ed
    TED-Ed  3 months ago +468

    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!

    • Nesiah Coward
      Nesiah Coward Month ago

      I love this channel because your illustrations are magnificent and your commentators have such soothing voices. There are things that I have learned from this channel, which helps me so much in school. Its amazing, thank you so much.

    • Simrah
      Simrah 3 months ago


    • TheSassi42
      TheSassi42 3 months ago

      lalla jha I don't understand. this video political. I thought it was about a scientist/doctor.

    • lalla jha
      lalla jha 3 months ago

      Tedx stop using it for political benefits. It's a learning organization not a political one.

    • TheSassi42
      TheSassi42 3 months ago

      The title is not chosen very well... The health crisis already happend. She averted it from spreading to the US and more countries. But saying she averted it could come over belittling to the health crisis that already happened, if the word is interpreted wrongly. I would recommend «averted it from the US» or similar.

  • Crowel Lovecraft

    how an amazing story of an ultra amazing person was ruined by gender war my advice stop watching at 4:35 if u dont want to buy the bs the gender hero is trying to oush here . shame on u

  • Manu Nr
    Manu Nr 2 days ago

    Those thoughts before each clip are very apt , please keep doing those ...

  • Undertale _fan 93
    Undertale _fan 93 4 days ago

    I will remember you docter Kelsey

  • Holly O'Connor
    Holly O'Connor 4 days ago

    That lady saved more than just lives; she 'in some ways' saved the future. Rock on, Dr. Kelsey!!!

  • Arleigh Peterson
    Arleigh Peterson 4 days ago

    Why women aren't in STEM:

    They don't wan't to be

  • That Russian
    That Russian 8 days ago

    So, her achievement was not really a scientific breakthrough, but rather an educated bureaucratic checklist. Gotcha.

  • Sangita Barai
    Sangita Barai 9 days ago

    This is where the losers comments are

  • Astariol
    Astariol 9 days ago

    50 years later the Trump administration is trying to prohibit the use of the term "evidence-based".

  • Love INDIA
    Love INDIA 11 days ago

    The Great People are Not Born by Birth They Become Great by their Works and Decisions.
    She is A Great Gift to Humanity.

  • Angel Benitez
    Angel Benitez 11 days ago

    Can we just celebrate her as a brilliant scientist not a female scientist who was subjected to 'social norms'?
    You diminish her accomplishment by painting her as a victim.

  • Lesbian Amazon Sister
    Lesbian Amazon Sister 11 days ago

    It’s hard to imagine a time when the U.S. was more precautionary than Europe with new drugs.
    (Look up the precautionary principle practiced in Europe).

  • Hobo The Dog
    Hobo The Dog 13 days ago

    SHE LIVED FOR 101 YEARS?!?!?!

  • crystal beats
    crystal beats 13 days ago

    one of my teachers last names is davies shes my english teacher

  • Ioan Jivan
    Ioan Jivan 15 days ago

    seems more than national security

  • The Fiddly Diddler
    The Fiddly Diddler 16 days ago

    She was a hero because she saved thousands of lives, not because she was a women.

  • Carl Jakobsson
    Carl Jakobsson 17 days ago

    A great deed by Kelsey, but to think that americans are 'protected' by the FDA is a bit strange. Because, with the new stringent requirements on drugs it would take longer and longer for beneficial drugs to be sold on the market. There are various estimates of how many die due medicine being available but illegal to prescribe to patients, but some suggests that prohibiting propranolol, a beta-blocker, may have resulted in the death of 30 to 280 thousand people; and maybe 80 thousand died from the prohibition of Septra, an antibiotic. See "Economics of Public Issues", pp 6-7.

  • That one friend
    That one friend 19 days ago

    She fought prejudice because of her gender and greedy companies that gave Faldo accusations to become a saviour of so many people. Another underrepresented genius in my opinion, I mean, what a badass!

  • Blue Hoodie8
    Blue Hoodie8 20 days ago

    When idiots try to tell a smart person to change

  • cerci Ironborn
    cerci Ironborn 20 days ago

    #feminism for doing her work?

  • Captain Landalien
    Captain Landalien 22 days ago

    This was a really great video, very educational, but I would like to point out that at the end, while it was true back then, nowadays, women are unrepresented in stem fields not because they are accepted less, or paid less, but because they apply less, infact employers even prefer a female over an equally qualified male. There are probably social factors that affect this, yes, not not the points this video gave.

  • Guy White
    Guy White 22 days ago

    I didn't really like personal commentary, at the end. You should put a name on it. Don't just imply it's that it's all men. That's just as bad as the claim you are making about them.
    Thumbs up, though. Whomever disliked this should have their head examined. What's not to like about healthy babies? Am I right?

  • Julian Qarim
    Julian Qarim 23 days ago

    Damn gurl!

  • Thorerx
    Thorerx 24 days ago

    Loved it up until the end. Inspiring story. Nothing wrong with women choosing not to go into stem fields. Nothing wrong with men choosing not to go into nursing fields. Nothing wrong with men choosing not to get an education in psychology. Why do we care what field people focus on based on their gender?

  • Alejandro Reyes
    Alejandro Reyes 24 days ago

    it's because women love to cheer on hard-working female scientists, but don't want to be one themselves for a variety of reasons. it's a matter of interest imho

  • jazmine
    jazmine 26 days ago

    thank you for telling her story. please tell more stories of these unknown heros

  • TheFlowMind
    TheFlowMind 27 days ago

    We had not been so lucky in EU. No one stopped the drug and thousands of people were born with terrible disabilities. My mum was born in 1962 in Italy and she’s one of the Thalidomide’s children.

  • Mr. Meeseeks
    Mr. Meeseeks 27 days ago

    Sad. Now the FDA can be bought by the highest bidders.

  • Nelson Torres
    Nelson Torres 28 days ago

    Because motivation is different motivation in career choosing!

  • Zack Vine
    Zack Vine 29 days ago

    this episode was good until the end where it turned into leftist propaganda

  • The Real Deal
    The Real Deal 29 days ago

    Ancaps, I’ve got my eye on you.

  • kcmn00
    kcmn00 Month ago

    What a true hero

  • Liam Lambert
    Liam Lambert Month ago

    Back immigration romance perspective glass late because convinced bare vulnerable.

  • Miko Mido
    Miko Mido Month ago

    Why are women underrepresented in STEM?
    It certainly not the Patriarchy

  • Whitninjathemovie
    Whitninjathemovie Month ago

    Should she have received an award for doing her job?

  • Veronika Alcoba
    Veronika Alcoba Month ago

    She finished an undergraduate AND postgrad in 2 years?!!!! Not to mention 4 freakin degrees?? Hot dammmnnn 👏👏👏 #powertowomen

  • SirJMO
    SirJMO Month ago

    I disagree with the ending notion: women being unrepresented in stem fields.
    If anything it's young

  • Piññaġnaqtuq
    Piññaġnaqtuq Month ago

    Why is nursing (including masters, NP, and PhD) ever-snubbed as a STEM field? Because it's already women-heavy. Include nursing in your STEM counts and you may see those numbers inch a little closer towards what we would like to see as far as 50/50

  • RandomdudeZ9
    RandomdudeZ9 Month ago +1

    Moral of the story. Follow what you f*cking say.

  • Lord Felidae
    Lord Felidae Month ago

    I am so glad she got to see the good she did.

  • Sam Seidel • 11 minutes ago

    We love our individuals

  • Alexis Marie
    Alexis Marie Month ago

    she’s like im just doing my job dudes

  • Johannes Weger
    Johannes Weger Month ago

    Im from Italy and I know many Peopel whos Kids or Friends where deformed.

  • casually casual
    casually casual Month ago

    honestly this video only makes me lose faith in humanity

  • K B
    K B Month ago

    I'm a college student. From my experience, women are only underrepresented in Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, and Philosophy... *Every* other major (from Chemistry to Sociology) has a good number of men and women. And women make up the majority in some majors. That said, I've seen sexist attitudes from people in majors that are mostly male or female.

  • Sofia dk
    Sofia dk Month ago

    It inspires us tô not give up, even with the different threatment we get Just for benigno women

  • Sofia dk
    Sofia dk Month ago

    I absolutely loved this video!!

  • Hakan Töre
    Hakan Töre Month ago +1

    dislikes are this guys 2:32

  • Timmy Ledwon
    Timmy Ledwon Month ago

    I love the video but women are getting a degree in women's studies then complaining that there aren't any women in stem fields.

    KAT PHAM Month ago

    I was actually very surprised to hear that the FDA firmly backed her up considering the fact that women were looked down upon, back then

  • jordan park
    jordan park Month ago

    Didn't appreciate the crude and reductionist lecture at the end, but the rest of the video was nice and inspiring.

  • Nesiah Coward
    Nesiah Coward Month ago

    For anyone wondering, she lived to be 101 years old. That amazing

  • william
    william Month ago

    true hero

  • Leah Winningham
    Leah Winningham Month ago

    Women don't go into STEM fields normally. The only reason is because they don't find interest in it. Women are free to choose

  • terry ferguson
    terry ferguson Month ago

    Science is largely sorcery and magic,carried out by demons,NOT people with aspergers syndrome.The technology comes from the fallen angels and demons that inhabit people.Read the book of Enoch.Audio version on youtube.See Trey Smith`s video on the Nephiim.

  • John Marshall
    John Marshall Month ago

    She stooped the drug but the harm was already done thalidomide was in USA from 1956 to 1962 as samples millions of pills were given out

  • Karl Palomo
    Karl Palomo Month ago

    Wow :'-)

  • Lovin9Lives
    Lovin9Lives Month ago

    all thanks to the "mistake" of thinking she was male when accepted for her phd! Mr. Oldham and she was able to get her further education and saved lives!

  • jerrij4242
    jerrij4242 Month ago


  • LilmsKobe V
    LilmsKobe V Month ago

    She died when I was 10

  • Vaut
    Vaut Month ago

    I’m so proud of her

  • Pixel Bytes
    Pixel Bytes Month ago

    Amazing video loved it
    But why did you have to advertise political ted talks?

  • Mohamed Humaid
    Mohamed Humaid Month ago


    BLUEGENE13 Month ago

    atleast they didn't promote the gender propaganda

  • Seal Of Apoorval
    Seal Of Apoorval Month ago

    I bet today Trump would have called her fake news and said she was on a witch hunt, eventually supporting the big billion $$ company. And the worse part? A majority of people would have supported that today

  • ordinarylover
    ordinarylover Month ago

    That is why we need regulations...

  • Maeve McCann
    Maeve McCann Month ago

    Thalidomide caused awful results in Britain

  • The Seal
    The Seal Month ago

    Great video! And loads of sensitive men crying about the ending in the comments is entertaining lol

  • Dom Vasta
    Dom Vasta Month ago +1

    But for every thalidomide blocked from the market, there are a dozen other drugs like beta blockers which are held up for months awaiting FDA approval, while patients who would otherwise be receiving the life saving treatment die. FDA approval should be required for advertisement and marketing of drugs, but not for their sale and use, let patients who would otherwise die take the risk to their safety into theirs and their doctor's own hands, allow them access to all the studies done on the drug, not just the ones that the pharmaceutical companies decided to send to the FDA, as well as access to the drug itself, while it is pending approval. No one should die when a cure for their illness exists, but a government body has yet to approve it.

  • Matthew Freedlander

    Canada represent!

  • Dragon Dimosthenis
    Dragon Dimosthenis Month ago

    one also one scientist saved million of men

  • Javier Lemus
    Javier Lemus Month ago

    Scientist who is averting gender ideology plague?

  • Young Mo$e$
    Young Mo$e$ 2 months ago

    Can y'all do some more men

  • NoriMori
    NoriMori 2 months ago

    Thank God the FDA backed her up. This could have turned out a lot differently otherwise.

  • Husnain Ali
    Husnain Ali 2 months ago

    amazing work...

  • 000000 000000
    000000 000000 2 months ago

    Women are underrepresented in STEM fields because women tend to be less interested in STEM fields.

  • Hi, I'm Hot Rod
    Hi, I'm Hot Rod 2 months ago

    Why don't you humans have a day for her? She save people's lives!

  • Pulse VII
    Pulse VII 2 months ago

    Everyone is talking about Kelsey, but Merrel sounds like an *ss

  • Jakédsoké
    Jakédsoké 2 months ago

    I’m Canadian

  • Dravelen Hawk
    Dravelen Hawk 2 months ago

    What if it was a guy?

  • Elinor
    Elinor 2 months ago

    My dad was almost a thalidomide baby. My grandmother was prescribed thalidomide (in Sweden in the 60s) and fortunately she never took it.

  • TMHedge
    TMHedge 2 months ago

    4:42 "Pervasive gender biases"
    It wasn't gender bias that did that, it was money.
    You said it yourself earlier in the video!, it was a 2.24 billion dollar industry!, the company that sold the drug wanted in to that industry regardless of the risk to the public.
    They targeted her because she was the one most in charge of approving/rejecting the case!, not because of her gender, but because she was the one person in their way stopping them from getting their drug on the markets.

  • montork
    montork 2 months ago

    stereotype: women value feelings over facts and are too emotional.
    stereotype: women are too nitpicky and difficult.
    males will literally flip flop if it will get them what they want.

  • Being Greatest
    Being Greatest 2 months ago

    Respect for the lady👏👏

  • shingshongshamalama
    shingshongshamalama 2 months ago

    If you ever doubt the brutal inhumanity of corporate business, just remember that this company was complaining to the FDA and whining to get a drug approved for sale that THEY KNEW AT THE TIME CAUSED BIRTH DEFECTS.

  • Al Cor
    Al Cor 2 months ago

    She has a school named after her on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

  • Aisha Bhat
    Aisha Bhat 2 months ago +1

    Very nice animation and speaker but I want Addison Anderson 😂😂😂

  • Ntokozo Moyo
    Ntokozo Moyo 2 months ago

    Doing the right thing is so rare that you get a medal for it. She's an example of why it's so important.

  • Sophie Jones
    Sophie Jones 2 months ago

    Too bad no one like this works at the FDA anymore. "that continue to protect people today" lol. the only people protected by the FDA these days are pharmacists.

  • Connor Shaw-case
    Connor Shaw-case 2 months ago

    Why are women underepresented in stem when they have a 2:1 advantage in being hired and are graduating college more then men? Maybe its to do with less women wanting to do stem not everyone is as sexist as the 1940s

  • Hailey25
    Hailey25 2 months ago +1

    To any young girls (or anyone for that matter) interested in science, there is this amazing book called "Women in Science" by Rachel Ignotofsky. It talks about the work of over 50 different female scientists from Roman times to the Space Race from all over the world. It's a fairly easy read and very detailed, and many of the women did these absolutely revolutionary things yet almost no one today will recognize their names. I recommend it to anyone.

  • Andrew Aziz
    Andrew Aziz 2 months ago +1

    As a pharmacist, I thank Dr. Kelsey for her contribution to the profession. As my mentors have told me "always practice evidence-based medicine, not eminence-based medicine"

  • V D.O.
    V D.O. 2 months ago +1

    Lmfao the amount of sexist guys on the comments is too damn high.

  • Kezbardo
    Kezbardo 2 months ago

    Yooo I remember this from Breaking Bad, when Walter explained chirality in his class, he used Thalidomide as an example

  • Hensley JeanBaptiste
    Hensley JeanBaptiste 2 months ago +1

    She lived to 101 wow she really was a doctor of medicine

  • ruzzell907
    ruzzell907 2 months ago

    Countless children have been saved without us knowing.

  • Mariana Torres
    Mariana Torres 2 months ago

    Basically, a brain with legs 💖

  • Prometheus Kapoor
    Prometheus Kapoor 3 months ago +1

    i want to cure AIDS

  • phoeniximperator
    phoeniximperator 3 months ago

    I'm surprised that they didn't brand her as a communist and anti capitalist

  • Josélina Aygretto
    Josélina Aygretto 3 months ago

    why is STEM so important?