The first woman to head the American Association of Anatomists and to become a permanent member of the National Academy of Sciences, she was also the first female professor at Johns Hopkins University's medical school.
After graduating from Smith College in the late 1800s, she taught high school math and college zoology and went on to study at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine.
Her research on tuberculosis and the circulatory and lymphatic systems eventually earned her a directorial position with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research's Department of Cellular Studies. After retiring from her teaching and research careers, she became a public health advocate in her native Colorado and was awarded a 1951 Lasker Award for her medical activism.
Born in Central City, Colorado, to Serena Miner and George Sabin, she and her older sister, Mary, were raised by their paternal uncle and grandparents following their mother's death.
Early in her career, she interned with Johns Hopkins Hospital founder William Osler.