Gene-Ann Polk

Gene-Ann Polk, M.D.
1926 - 2015

From 1953 to 1994, Dr. Polk worked at Harlem Hospital in New York City, as well as serving other roles in the early part of her career.  At Harlem Hospital, her career included roles as a physician and administrator.  In 1962, when Harlem Hospital was affiliated with Columbia University, she joined the Columbia faculty, retiring 32 years later as a professor Emerita.  Dr. Polk joined the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine's Board of Directors in 2006, serving as an emeritus member until her death in 2015.

Dr. Polk received her BA from Oberlin College in 1948 and her MD from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1952.  From 1952 to 1953 she was an intern at Sydenham Hospital, New York.  She completed her Pediatric Residency at Harlem Hospital from 1953 to 1955.  In 1968 she earned a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University.  Dr. Polk worked in private practice and in city and county-based health care clinics as well as at Harlem Hospital.  She has been active in mentoring young black women into the medical professional and preserving the history of the contributions of black women to medicine.

While at Harlem Hospital, Dr. Polk pioneered research on the treatment of neonatal drug addiction and established a neonatal transfusion program.  As she rose to leadership positions --Director of Pediatric Ambulatory Care, Acting Director of Pediatrics, and Director of Ambulatory Care Services—Dr. Polk had increasing impact on the delivery of care within the hospital and the network of clinics she established.  She has received awards from the Susan Smith McKinney Steward Medical Society and The United Negro College Fund.


Biography adapted from Interview Profile by Tacey A. Rosolowski