Virginia Apgar, 1909–1974

Inventor of the Apgar Score for newborns

Virginia Apgar, inventor, physician, obstetrical anesthesiologist, professor and medical researcher, is best known for the Apgar score, which she created in 1953 to test the health of newborn babies and is still widely used. “Apgar” stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration. 

Named as director of anesthesia at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1938, Dr. Apgar became the first woman to head one of the college’s specialty divisions. A decade later she became the first woman at the college to be named full professor. 

Born in Westfield, New Jersey, Dr. Apgar was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a $.20 stamp as part of its Great American postage series. In 2018 Google celebrated her 109th birthday with a Google Doodle.

Class year: 1929
Major: biology