Hazel Mansell Gore (1923-2001) was a physician and educator who made significant contributions to the development of modern gynecologic pathology, the study of diseases of the female reproductive system. Although born and educated in Australia, Gore spent much of her professional life in Birmingham, Jefferson County, practicing and teaching medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Gore influenced the practices and research of numerous professionals throughout the state and the nation and is considered to be a major pioneer in her fields, as well as a role model for women in medicine.
The only child of Horace Henry Mansell and Beryl Laird Mansell, she was born Hazel Mansell on May 23, 1923, in Sydney, Australia, where she grew up in the prosperous Summer Hill suburb and attended Fort Street Girl’s High School. Although her father hoped she would pursue a career in journalism, she wanted to be a physician and in 1940 enrolled in Sydney University. Australia had entered into World War II in September of the previous year and due to the wartime need for physicians, Mansell and her classmates were placed in an accelerated program. She graduated with her medical degree in 1945, at the age of 22.
Upon completing her internship and residency at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Mansell decided to pursue a fellowship in the United States, where influential work was being done in the field of women’s medicine. Arriving in New York City in 1951, she spent nine months assisting in the pathology department at New York Hospital, where she worked with Georgios Papanikolaou, a pioneer in early cancer detection and the inventor of the Papanikolaou test. Abbreviated as Pap test, it is most commonly known as the Pap smear, a method of cervical screening used to detect potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix. At the end of that year, Mansell obtained a position in the pathology department at the Free Hospital for Women (now part of Brigham and Women’s Hospital) in Boston, Massachusetts. During her years in Boston, she became close friends with physicians Kurt Bernirshke and Shirley Driscoll, co-authors of Pathology of the Human Placenta, considered the most authoritative text of placental diseases of its time; their work would influence her own.
In 1953, Mansell became an assistant in pathology at the Harvard Medical School of Harvard University. It was around this time she met her future husband, Ira Gore, who was a well-known cardiac pathologist working at that time in Detroit. She had originally intended to stay in North America for only a few years before moving on to England and then returning to Australia, but she married Gore on May 9, 1954, and remained in the United States. Close friend Arthur T. Hertig, a pioneering specialist in reproductive pathology whose research led to the development of both the contraceptive pill and in-vitro fertilization, walked her down the aisle. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Gore wrote extensively in medical literature, often in collaboration with Hertig. Between 1956 and 1961, they produced a three-part series of articles, collectively titled Tumors of the Female Organ, that was influential in gynecologic pathology at that time.
Hazel Gore’s frequent and influential collaborations with Hertig ended with his retirement in 1969. In 1970, she and her husband moved to Birmingham, where she was jointly recruited by the Department of Pathology and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UAB. As a professor of pathology, she collaborated on a series of publications with Hugh Shingleton, the first gynecologic oncologist in the state and founder and first director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at UAB. Their collaborations would include important and influential studies of post-reproductive gynecology, female genital cancer, and adenocarcinoma of the cervix. Edward E. Partridge, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of gynecologic oncology at UAB, would later cite Gore and her work as being remarkable and formative and would call her a huge influence on physicians-in-training during her 25 years at the university.
In 1974, the Gores moved to Rochester, New York, where Hazel served as director of cytopathology at the Rochester General Hospital. Three years later, the Gores returned to Birmingham, where she continued her association with Shingleton. Although state law required her to formally retire at the age of 70, in 1994, she continued teaching and consulting on a voluntary basis as well as researching and publishing her findings. She remained busy and productive until she died from complications during a coronary bypass procedure on July 14, 2001.
In 2007, Gore was among a select group of gynecological pathologists honored in a special issue of the journal Pathology for her influence in the development of modern gynecologic pathology. In March 2014, she was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame on the campus of Judson College in Marion, Perry County.
Garrison, Greg. “Medical Pioneer Dr. Hazel Gore Will Be Inducted in Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.” The Birmingham News, January 17, 2014.
Young, Robert H. “The Rich History of Gynaecological Pathology: Brief Notes On Some of Its Personalities and Their Contributions.” Pathology (February 2007) 39: 6-25.