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Rebecca C. Lancefield was the forty-fifth president of the American Association of Immunologists, serving from 1961 to 1962. Lancefield spent more than 40 years at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now the Rockefeller University), where she established herself as a world-renowned authority on streptococcal bacteria and developed the system for classifying streptococci that bears her name and is still in use today.
After earning her M.A. in bacteriology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) in 1918, Lancefield began her career at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research as a technical assistant to Oswald T. Avery (AAI ’20, president 1929–1930) and Alphonse Dochez (AAI ’20, president 1931–1932), who were then working on streptococcal research for the U.S. Army. Funding for the research project ceased shortly after the end of the First World War, and Lancefield temporarily left the Rockefeller Institute in 1919. She studied drosophila genetics as a technical assistant in Thomas Hunt Morgan’s laboratory at Columbia University from 1919 to 1921 and taught bacteriology at the University of Oregon for one year before returning to New York City in 1922. She rejoined the staff at the Rockefeller Institute as a technical assistant and enrolled in the Ph.D. program in immunology and bacteriology at P&S, earning her degree under Hans Zinsser (AAI ’17, president 1919–1920) in 1925. She remained at the Rockefeller Institute for the rest of her career, becoming an assistant in 1929, an associate member in 1942, and a member and professor of microbiology in 1958. Lancefield retired as emeritus professor of microbiology in 1965.
Vice President: 1960–1961
"Current Knowledge of Type-Specific M Antigens of Group A Streptococci," Delivered April 16, 1962
The Journal of Immunology 89, no. 3 (1962): 307–13.