A fascinating article on the Hidden City Philadelphia website looks at the legacy of the Wistar rat and of Helen Dean King, who earned her Ph.D. in biology at Bryn Mawr in 1899.
From the article:
The ubiquity of rats in research today can be traced back to The Wistar Institute. When its third director, Milton J. Greenman, shifted the Institute’s focus away from comparison and classification towards a modern investigation of biological processes, developing a standardized laboratory animal became a key focus. Until this time, laboratories primarily utilized the common house mouse (Mus musculus). Greenman, along with neurophysiologist Henry H. Donaldson and biologist Helen Dean King, found the albino rat to be an ideal laboratory model as its nervous system develops in the same manner as humans, only exponentially faster.
Later in the article, author Mickey Herr writes about King:
Helen Dean King was born in Owego, New York, the granddaughter of Reverend William H. King, who preached for temperance and abolition. After earning a B.A. from Vassar College in 1892, she moved to Philadelphia to attend Bryn Mawr College, the first college in the country to offer graduate degrees to women. At Bryn Mawr she became a prime example of dedication and independence. Within five years she had earned a Fellow in biology and two years later, her Ph.D.
Read the entire article at Hidden City Philadelphia.