Louise Giblin


Louise Giblin

Louise A. [Giblin] Sallaway (b. December 24, 1895, d. September 15, 1973) was a female chemist who significantly contributed to the baby formula Similac–an innovation with global results.

Born in 1895, Louise graduated from Simmons College in 1917 with a degree in science. [Simmons College Reunion Book. 32nd Reunion of the Class of 1917. 1949.] Just a year later, Louise co-published two articles with Dr. Bosworth, a chemist at Boston Floating Hospital. The articles, entitled “Studies of Infant Feeding” and “The Casein of Human Milk” detail their search for a substitute to breast milk. [Studies of Infant Feeding. Bosworth and Giblin, from Boston Floating Hospital Laboratories and the Pediatric Department of Harvard Medical School. March 28, 1918. & The Casein of Human Milk. Bosworth and Giblin, from Boston Floating Hospital Laboratories. May 28, 1918.] The duo repeatedly experimented with the ratios of oils, calcium, and salts to proteins and carbohydrates. After 200 tests, the formula was marketed and bottled in 1924. In 1927, the formula was named Similac, noting its similarly to lactation.

Sometime between the 200 tests from 1919 and 1924, Louise moved to New York where she received a Masters in Chemistry from Columbia University in 1925. [Columbia University Archives.] She was the first woman admitted to Kappa Mu Sigma, “a society for graduate students in chemistry” that aimed to “raise the standards of professional chemistry among women by insisting on the importance of (graduate) chemical training for a professional career.” [Struggles and Strategies to 1940: Women Scientists in America Rossiter, Margaret W. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984, p. 301. & “Kappa Mu Sigma, National Directory and Constitution, 1920-1927,” pamphlet in Florence Siebert Paper, American Philosophical Society.] Louise was working toward her PhD when she gave up academia for marriage and raising her two sons. She died in 1973, but is remembered for her significant contribution which has nourished millions of infants around the world.

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