Woman gets PhD, aged 102


A doctor who was denied a PhD by the Nazis will receive the qualification from the University of Hamburg on Sunday - aged 102.

Seventy seven years after she handed in her thesis, Ingeborg Rapoport passed her viva on March 13 at an examination held in her Berlin home.

"We cannot make up for the injustice that has already occurred but we can contribute to working through the darkest sides of German history at universities," said Dr Uwe Koch-Gromus, the dean of the medical school, speaking to DPA news agency. The exam went well, he said: "Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."

In 1938, the university marked Mrs Rapoport ineligible for advancement, due to her Jewish background.

After leaving Nazi Germany for the US in 1938, a combination of luck and determination allowed Mrs Rapoport to continue her career in medicine.

Having successfully launched her medical career and started a family, in 1952 she and her husband moved back to Germany, where she founded the first neonatology clinic.

Despite having problems with her eyesight, Mrs Rapoport prepared for her viva with the help of friends and family, researching new developments in diphtheria, the original topic of her thesis.

She is now the oldest person ever to receive a doctoral degree.

The issue of her incomplete doctorate resurfaced after her son, Tom Rapoport, a professor at Harvard Medical School, related his mother's story to a colleague from the University of Hamburg.

"She insists this isn't about her but about rectifying the injustice done to her and done to many others," he said.

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