Arnold Hamilton Maloney Biography (1888-1955)

Trinidadian, African American
physician, pharmacologist

Arnold Hamilton Maloney began his career planning to be a druggist in his native Trinidad, but his ultimate influence in the field of pharmacology was tobe far greater than the local level. Maloney immigrated to the United Statesin 1909 where he completed his education and eventually became the first black professor of pharmacology in the nation. He had a varied career as ordainedminister in the Episcopal Church, professor, researcher, consultant, and author. Through his research, he is perhaps most known for discovering an antidote for barbiturate poisoning (or an overdose of sedatives). He was also the second person of African descent to obtain both a medical degree and a doctorate of philosophy in the United States.

Maloney, the oldest male of ten children, was born July 4, 1888, in Cocoye Village, Trinidad, British West Indies. His father, Lewis Albert Maloney, was abuilding contractor and grocery chain operator, and his mother, Estelle Evetta (Bonas) Maloney, taught needlework to young women and later operated a general store. As a student, Maloney excelled and won numerous awards. He had alove of learning that led him to pursue many different interests as an adult.He studied at Naparima College in Trinidad, which is affiliated with Cambridge University, England, earning his bachelor's degree in 1909. That same year, he immigrated to the United States where he attended Lincoln University inPennsylvania. In 1910, he received his master's degree from Columbia University. Maloney then received a bachelor of science degree in theology from the General Theological Seminary, New York, in 1912. He began his ministry at age23 with the distinction of being the youngest minister in the Protestant Episcopal Church.

After practicing for several years, Maloney felt that the Episcopal Church was neglecting young black men. A suggestion he made prompted the church to establish St. Augustine in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a college for black youth. Although there were aspects of the ministry that Maloney enjoyed, he becamedisillusioned and left the church in 1922. He published a book outlining hisviews, The Essentials of Race Leadership, in 1924. On leaving the ministry, Maloney turned to teaching, accepting a professorship of psychology at Wilberforce University in Ohio. While he was very enthusiastic about teaching and found it rewarding, he decided to continue his own education.

Maloney entered Indiana University School of Medicine in 1925, graduating with a medical degree in 1929. He then attended the University of Wisconsin, where he engaged in research in pharmacology, earning a doctorate in this fieldin 1931. Maloney has the distinction of being the second man of African descent to earn both the M.D. and the Ph.D. degrees. Upon accepting a position atHoward University in the same year, he also became the first black professorof pharmacology in the United States.

From 1931 until 1953, Maloney worked in the department of pharmacology at Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. He began as an associate professor of pharmacology, becoming a full professor, and then head of thedepartment. During these years, he also worked as a consultant in pharmacology for Freedmen's Hospital. Maloney's research involved several areas of pharmacology, but his most important work was the discovery of an antidote for barbiturate overdose. High levels of barbiturates (drugs used as sedatives) cause potentially deadly symptoms such as shallow respiration, central nervous system depression, and deep anesthesia. Maloney determined that administering picrotoxin (a potentially lethal poison) quickly reversed these symptoms. Hisfirst paper on this subject was published in 1931.

Maloney was hugely affected by the written word. He devoted two chapters of his autobiography, Amber Gold: An Adventure in Autobiography, to books he had been influenced by or enjoyed. He also wrote more than 50 articles during his career before retiring in 1953. Maloney was a member of many learned societies and several medical associations, including the American Negro Academy, American Academy of Political Sciences and the National Medical Association. In 1916, he married Beatrice Pocahontas Johnston; they had two children: Arnold Maloney, Jr. and Louise Beatrice. Maloney died in Washington, D.C.,on August 8, 1955.

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