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Charles F. Whitten Papers 1938-2003
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Biographical Note

Charles F. Whitten was born on February 2, 1922 in Wilmington, Delaware. He left his home town after high school to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a degree in zoology in 1942. He received his medical training at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, graduating in 1945. Dr. Whitten practiced general medicine in Lackawanna, New York for several years before choosing to specialize in pediatric hematology. After receiving advanced training at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and the Children's Hospital at Buffalo, New York, he moved to Detroit in 1957 where he undertook the dual roles of professor at Wayne State School of Medicine and pediatrician at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

Dr. Whitten's contributions to medical education at Wayne State include the founding of the African Medical Education Fund in 1960, which provided financial assistance for African American Medical students who agreed to serve a specified post-graduate period practicing in Africa, and a post baccalaureate program that enabled non-accepted black applicants an opportunity to enter medical school. His distinguished work at the Detroit Receiving Hospital earned him the position of chief of pediatrics, a first for a black physician in Detroit. Throughout his career, Dr. Whitten's primary research centered on sickle cell anemia. He published several studies and worked to expand awareness and promote education about the disease. Dr. Whitten was instrumental in the foundation, in 1971, of the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease as well as the opening of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Wayne State the same year. He remained professionally active well into his seventh decade. Charles Whitten died August 14, 2008 at the age of 86.