How one scientist averted a national health crisis - Andrea Tone

  • Published on Jun 7, 2018
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    In 1960, Frances Kelsey was one of the Food and Drug Administration’s newest recruits. Before the year was out, she would begin a fight that would save thousands of lives - though no one knew it at the time. Andrea Tone explains how Kelsey was able to prevent a massive national public health tragedy by privileging facts over opinions, and patience over short-cuts.
    Lesson by Andrea Tone, animation by TED-Ed.
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Comments • 1 565

  • TED-Ed
    TED-Ed  7 months ago +686

    If you're a student with a passion for science, share your ideas, discoveries and hopes with the world through TED's student idea platform: If your passions lie elsewhere, we want to hear from you, too! TED-Ed is creating a space to celebrate and amplify student ideas on a wide range of topics - from human rights to staying organized in school - and we want you to be a part of it! Check it out!

    • Alex Erhan
      Alex Erhan Month ago

      Ted Ed = prickly Philadelphia

    • Arnav Kelkar
      Arnav Kelkar 3 months ago

      TED-Ed (

    • Nesiah Coward
      Nesiah Coward 5 months ago

      I love this channel because your illustrations are magnificent and your commentators have such soothing voices. There are things that I have learned from this channel, which helps me so much in school. Its amazing, thank you so much.

    • Sim
      Sim 7 months ago


  • Robert A
    Robert A 3 days ago

    How has no one pointed out that she was 101 years old when she died?

  • KaiserAfini
    KaiserAfini 5 days ago

    A great professional does not let anything stop them from delivering methodical assessments and putting the welfare of the public first. Dr Kelsey is an inspiration to all fields, not just pharmacology.

  • Black Hatred
    Black Hatred 5 days ago

    Bro, she was 101

  • Crista D.
    Crista D. 6 days ago

    Amazing how many microd*cks got triggered by the ending of the video. The comment section is hilarious.

  • Matriks
    Matriks 6 days ago

    And that man, was Eren jaegers dad

  • Imperator Augustus
    Imperator Augustus 7 days ago +2

    Women disproportionately represented in STEM fields? What could this mean? Gender bias, of course; just like in the 1930's! The video was great until this part. I don't think I've ever hit my face harder than in the end there.

  • You Who shall not be named

    Wow 101 years old

  • Bobby C
    Bobby C 7 days ago

    This is egalitarianism done right. If you want women to receive the same recognition as men, then don't qualify their achievements with epithets describing their gender.

  • Jock McBile
    Jock McBile 8 days ago

    A great story. It is sad, we haven't moved on much, but we are heading in the right direction. Thank you to Dr. Kelsey

  • Dyzinel
    Dyzinel 8 days ago

    She really was amazing and badass huh.

  • sapplejax
    sapplejax 9 days ago +1

    What a legend of a human. Amazing.

  • SilverS Gaming
    SilverS Gaming 9 days ago

    She spent her live saving many of those in her time and many more in the future.
    Truly a hero.

  • Hecatia Lapislazuli
    Hecatia Lapislazuli 9 days ago

    There TVclip, I finally watched it. Now stop reccomending it.

  • xXxMartin96xXx
    xXxMartin96xXx 9 days ago

    "Yet women are underepresented in STEM fields. Why?"
    Maybe because not enough girls want to study STEM?

  • zeldafreak701
    zeldafreak701 10 days ago

    Good God, just think if you parents were born around that time, they could've been subject to these horrible diseases!
    That being said, TED, please let's just focus on the accomplishments of this lady and not push this SJW nonsense. This is a different time and women most certainly are not subject to gender biases in the STEM field. They're just underrepresented because not enough of them want to a STEM career. If you're going to go that route, then let's talk about how males are underrepresented in fields such as education and nursing.

  • AlchemistOfNirnroot
    AlchemistOfNirnroot 10 days ago

    I remember this from GCSE bio...

  • napstrike
    napstrike 10 days ago

    It is believed that only USA and Turkey managed to stay away from this dangerous drug. In the Turkish front, the Distinguished Prof. Dr. Süreyya Tahsin Aygün was working on stem cells and investigated the drug. He noticed that it would have adverse effects on pregnant women (since it was his field of work), and informed the ministry of health. The ministry of health banned the drug and saved the nation. However,
    Kelsey was declared a hero in the USA, while some idiots tried to declare Aygun as a charlatan in Turkey. Only when the Germans named an institute after him, the nation learned the truth about him.

  • DinoWolf35
    DinoWolf35 10 days ago

    You had me until the end when you go on about STEM, there is actually a preference of taking girls over boys into STEM so the reason there aren't so many girls is because not that many girls are applying

  • indeepj
    indeepj 10 days ago

    Is She Still Alive?

  • Isaac Mikola
    Isaac Mikola 10 days ago

    It kind of reminds me of a famous picture of Madam Curie sitting with Einstein, Schrodinger, and a lot of other famous scientists in the Solvay Conference picture. She had a trench coat on.

  • megannnjay
    megannnjay 10 days ago

    What a freaking cool lady

  • The Dark Musket
    The Dark Musket 11 days ago +1

    You guys just had to make it political in the end, but still gave the video a like for the main content

  • Tyler Mustard
    Tyler Mustard 11 days ago

    women are less represented in STEM because less women are in STEM

  • Mysty Draco
    Mysty Draco 11 days ago

    F-F-facts over opinions???

  • Pinochet
    Pinochet 11 days ago +1

    Thanks TED-ED, very cool!

  • nah fool
    nah fool 11 days ago

    Badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass badass

  • The Furriner794
    The Furriner794 11 days ago +1

    If we had her today, maybe Big Pharma wouldn't be as greedy and dangerous, and produce drugs that create Autism.
    We need another Francis Kelsey, quick.

  • TrueUser025
    TrueUser025 12 days ago

    Women are underrepresented in STEM fields because less women choose to work there.
    You don't see men complaining about being underrepresented in schools or psychology etc because they also choose not to work there

  • FlammieLL
    FlammieLL 12 days ago

    I love finding rare gems like these.
    History is full of interesting people like these who changed the world, for the BETTER!

  • Max Bowen
    Max Bowen 12 days ago

    Anyone else finally figure out what that lyric was in didn’t start the fire

  • Road to 1000 hours of piano in 1 year

    How one Teemo adverted a backdoor crisis by building full AP and placing shrooms all over his base. (Assuming, of course, that such base had at least one inhibitor down and no towers at all, not even nexus turrets).

  • The Batman
    The Batman 12 days ago

    Its not that women are underrepresented in stem today, its that less women are interested in it

  • StonedRazor mrSaltyWater

    Next up: a brief history of cheese. yurt

  • Wyatt
    Wyatt 13 days ago

    Good video, too bad you had to stuck in liberal propaganda in the very end. Disliked.

  • jmsloss
    jmsloss 13 days ago

    God had her in the right place, at the right time, to do the right thing...

  • Vincent Krull
    Vincent Krull 13 days ago

    FDA: The Federal Dookie Association

  • Jovan Lee
    Jovan Lee 13 days ago

    While everyone thanked her. Can we thank all those in your FDA that supported her?

  • Witherman1
    Witherman1 13 days ago

    I do wonder how many people born with disabilities could have lived normal lives if not for things we put in our water and food.

  • Nerd
    Nerd 13 days ago +1

    I saw the title, I knew it was Thalidomide.
    Frances Oldham Kelsey was a legend. What she did left a mark in history. I am so proud of her. I will forever be grateful to Kelsey.

  • DarkWorld25
    DarkWorld25 13 days ago

    Well uhh, I'm pretty sure that it was an Australian Scientist that banned it, correct me if I'm wrong tho

  • A Random Rock
    A Random Rock 13 days ago

    Graduated at 15? I was a freshman at 14-15.

  • Zzul Ma
    Zzul Ma 13 days ago

    So touching

  • Annabel Morimoto
    Annabel Morimoto 13 days ago

    Knew it was her just by the title!
    I learned about her in my Chemistry class. She's so cool!!

  • Laura isanbaeva
    Laura isanbaeva 14 days ago +1

    Women are underrated in STEM fields because women aren't interested in STEM. If you want to actually help, seek out young girls and encourage them. Christ.

  • The Reprehensible
    The Reprehensible 14 days ago +1

    "Affirmative action" would like to know your location.

  • josh rixon
    josh rixon 14 days ago

    I wanna hear about more good stories like this. Thank you Ted-ed.

  • J M
    J M 14 days ago +1

    Sorry. Stopped caring when it turned into "blah blah blah feminism blah blah blah men doctors blah blah superiority blah."

  • Marco Glaner
    Marco Glaner 14 days ago

    Good stuff

  • JAKphoenixify
    JAKphoenixify 14 days ago +1

    I love how people calmly ignore the fact that the FDA openly supported Kelsey despite corporate shilling.

  • Ratyr
    Ratyr 14 days ago

    Nowadays, Thalidomide is used *extremely* sparingly. Thanks to Frances, Thalidomide was prevented from showing up on the US market before its effects were truly understood, and by the grace of God, the FDA supported her.
    As a result, we've had the time and reason to figure out what Thalidomide can cause and now, with very careful regulation (especially when it comes to pregnancy) it is used for a select few of diseases, like a certain cancer and leprosy complications.
    Thanks to all of these early pioneers in Thalidomide's history who rejected the drug or sought further testing, many people have been prevented from being born deformed or dead.
    Thalidomide's past use was a disaster, but it could have been much, much worse.

  • Lexi Barrow
    Lexi Barrow 14 days ago

    I actually learned about Thalidomide in Biology, and we learned about the damages it had on children throughout the UK.

  • Spikey Plant
    Spikey Plant 14 days ago

    Germans, eh? Guess old habits die hard.

    It's not that serious 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • Darling Jewel
    Darling Jewel 14 days ago

    Thank you so much. I have aunts and uncles and my mom who were all born in the 50s and 60s. Without you they might not be here.

  • Petitio Principii
    Petitio Principii 15 days ago

    This is another example of how those conspiracy theories of "hidden cures" kept secret by the big pharma are plain BS. More likely they'll be trying to push into the market things that don't work, don't quite work, or with too many adverse effects. That's the closest thing to a "conspiracy theory" that there is. TED has an interesting presentation on the subject, by Ben Goldacre: _"What doctors don't know about the drugs they prescribe"_

    It's also mentioned in some regard or another in a the series "calling BS in the age of big data":

  • Itsa Games
    Itsa Games 15 days ago

    well, thank you Frances!

  • Grayson Goss
    Grayson Goss 15 days ago

    Love how five angry people only have two arms.

  • K
    K 15 days ago

    Thank you for the excellent video!

  • Joseph Grey
    Joseph Grey 16 days ago


  • Gilda Hobbs
    Gilda Hobbs 16 days ago +1

    Growing up in Germany, I've heard the story of Thalidomide many times, but always as a depressing and haunting tragedy.
    Glad to hear so many people could be saved and this story could become the remarkably impressive inspiration we see here!
    Frances is a true hero.

  • Shoto Todoroki
    Shoto Todoroki 16 days ago

    She’s cool.

  • Bakpfeife
    Bakpfeife 16 days ago

    Good thing till the preachy end that just doesn't factor in psychology or any other measurement than the underrepresentation in stem fields.

  • Communist Furry
    Communist Furry 16 days ago

    Capitalism™ - Sacrificing morality for profit.

  • Thomas Martinez
    Thomas Martinez 16 days ago

    + Apocalypse averted

  • BladeOfLight16
    BladeOfLight16 16 days ago

    Thank you, Mrs. Kelsey.
    As for why women are don't make up nearly 50% of STEM, maybe take a page out of Kelsey's handbook and look at the data:

  • Scott-E
    Scott-E 16 days ago

    FINE TVclip

  • Justin K.
    Justin K. 16 days ago +1

    Mm hmm women was not accepted yet i think

  • Cyphon
    Cyphon 16 days ago


  • Jlfreedom
    Jlfreedom 16 days ago

    Wait even after thalidomide's side were discovered the company tried for 7 more months to get it approved!?!? Wow talk about terrible people

  • Lord TouchMe
    Lord TouchMe 16 days ago

    So she did her Job? I feel the people who think this is great are the ones who passed with George Bushes No child left behind ac. Also the adults who think their younger generation lacks confidence so they promote new like this instead of saying give a 110% and do better than your peers

  • Crazilily
    Crazilily 17 days ago

    Wait did i just watch a five minute advertisment

  • Worshipper_of_Kek
    Worshipper_of_Kek 17 days ago

    I hered about this on Call the Midwife.

  • Vence Ibul
    Vence Ibul 17 days ago

    Thank you Francis K.

  • Raiden the cyborg
    Raiden the cyborg 17 days ago

    The show ends at 4:38

  • Sushi Squad ツ
    Sushi Squad ツ 17 days ago

    Kelsey:Ayy thanks for this drug I'll test it
    Kelsey:This is bad for you
    German Company:NO IS NOT (x7)

  • hbarudi
    hbarudi 17 days ago

    So they didn't have pregnancy category levels back in 1960? Something that is considered standard today. Thanks for that to help women decide on medications and for doctors to adjust prescriptions accordingly. Also good that the FDA accepted the decision and not relied on the corporations trying to sell more of the medication.

  • TextBox green _plakat everything

    Badass women around.

  • zackadiax24
    zackadiax24 17 days ago


  • Johnyong Hwang
    Johnyong Hwang 17 days ago


  • m4 knowledge
    m4 knowledge 18 days ago

    Women are not in stem because they are either uninterested and/or the past in which women worked more at home which passed as tradition but hey I'm just guessing.

  • Shourya Patel
    Shourya Patel 18 days ago

    Hey tony

  • I'm a cat! Fear me!
    I'm a cat! Fear me! 18 days ago

    I love this animations art style so much!

  • Radhika R
    Radhika R 18 days ago +4

    To be frank, all the folks here complaining about the “Gender politics,” at the end are the same kinds of people who would have left a bad taste in Kelsey’s mouth when she had been alive. The taste of cognitive dissonance lol

  • SuperMadman41
    SuperMadman41 18 days ago

    FDA is a gutted shell of itself. Corps bought the politicians who have proceeded to gut all consumer protections. Good luck humans.......

  • mon1tor
    mon1tor 18 days ago

    So she did her job?

  • abdullah abdulaziz
    abdullah abdulaziz 18 days ago

    1914 - 2015...?
    She died at the age of 101 😲

  • [Whatever name goes here]

    The video should have ended at 4:30 honestly...

  • Wouter Meinen
    Wouter Meinen 19 days ago

    And she lived for 101 years!

    SUSHIL TIRKEY 19 days ago

    So big companies calling solo Marchers bad and pressuring them to submit, that too on a drug that caused freaking birth defects. How cruel are companies

  • js357s
    js357s 19 days ago

    Thank you Dr Kelsey.

  • Scout Hammer
    Scout Hammer 19 days ago

    The DFA is pretty unreasonable nowadays.
    Things like psilocybin are misclassified… Although they could cure the most horrific mental disorders nowadays that
    cripple lives every second.. anxiety, depression, ptsd..

  • The dirty bubble
    The dirty bubble 19 days ago

    *She's a real gamer*

  • Sandwich_masterX
    Sandwich_masterX 19 days ago

    "Facts over opinions."
    H m m . . .

  • Muller-Fall, the piece of paper

    *Ted-ed is making feminism look good. shame on you*

  • J W
    J W 19 days ago

    I really was enjoying this wonderful exceptional individual's story until identity politics in the STEM fields had to be shoehorned into it.
    TED, knock it off with the liberal politics, please.

  • Chris Hayes
    Chris Hayes 19 days ago

    Such an inspirational women!

  • Nothankyou
    Nothankyou 19 days ago

    Too late for the Netherlands tho

  • Samantha Monaghan
    Samantha Monaghan 19 days ago

    Steam done right, she didn't have a safe space or battle against unfair tests in school.

  • Royal
    Royal 19 days ago

    She probably sang thank you, next. as she denies each application

  • Joshbo5H
    Joshbo5H 19 days ago

    Facts over opinions. Yes!
    Oh boy let's hope what they immediately said after is done with facts and statistics, not feelings or opinions.