Mayo documentary follow-up question: Mayo hired its first African-American physician in 1979. Do you know that person's name? — Shane

While I'm not the esteemed documentarian Ken Burns (… or am I?), I can help you with that bit of Rochester history.

One of my eager helpers reached out to Mayo Clinic to track down this for you. The name you are looking for is Dr. Franklyn G. Prendergast. Mother Mayo added this overachiever to the fold 1979 with multiple medical and scientific degrees to his name.

He started his career at Mayo Clinic as a consultant in molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and later received a joint appointment in biochemistry and molecular biology in 1993. 

Prendergast also served as Mayo Clinic's director for research and later as director of of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. He was a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees and the Mayo Clinic Board of Governors. Prendergast retired from Mayo Clinic in 2014. He still serves as a director on the boards of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

For comparison purposes, Big Blue had African American engineers working in Rochester a few years earlier. Most notably, George Thompson was hired as an engineer here in 1968.

An overachiever? Sounds like me! Send questions to

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