The moment you will open Google today, you will be treated with a woman holding a jar as it honours English haematologist Lucy Wills with a doodle to mark her 131st birth anniversary today. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, she conducted seminal work in India on macrocytic anaemia of pregnancy. Her research analysis of prenatal anaemia changed the face of preventive prenatal care for a woman around the world. Her medical research led to her discovery of nutritional factor in yeast which prevents and cures the disorder.
Born in 1888, Lucy Wills attended Cheltenham College for Young Ladies where she got trained in science and mathematics. In 1911, she earned first honours in Botany and Geology at Cambridge University’s Newnham College. She completed her education and training at the London School of Medicine for Women.
After passing out from the college, Lucy Wills decided not to practise as a physician, but to research and teach in the Department of Chemical Pathology at the Royal Free. Macrocytic anaemia is characterised by enlarged red blood cells and is life-threatening.
During the Second World War, she was working as a full-time pathologist in the Emergency Medical Service. By the end of the war, she was in charge of pathology at the Royal Free and had established the first Haematology Department there. Lucy after her retirement travelled extensively, including to Jamaica, Fiji and South Africa, continuing her observations on nutrition and anaemia.
Lucy Wills observed an apparent correlation between the dietary habits of different classes of Bombay women and the likelihood of their becoming anaemic during pregnancy.
Lucy Wills died on 26 April 1964.