Willard M. Allen (1904-1993) was an academic obstetrician-gynecologist. He studied organic chemistry at Hobart College before he went the University of Rochester in 1926 to study medicine. In 1927, he took time out from medical studies to do research with his anatomy professor, George W. Corner. Together, they monitored changes in the corpus luteum of rabbits. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, a hormone important to the maintenance of pregnancy. This hormone was unknown until Allen and Corner's discovery of it in their experiments. For this research, Allen earned a master's in science in 1929. After returning to his medical studies in 1930, he earned his M.D. in 1932. Allen and microchemist Oskar Wintersteiner were the first of four groups to isolate progesterone in 1933. After an internship and residency at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, Allen joined the faculty of University of Rochester as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1936.
In 1940, Allen moved his gynecologic endocrine research operations to Washington University School of Medicine. At the time, he was the medical school's youngest department chair. He remained Department Chair and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology for over 30 years. An early collaborator in the department was William H. Masters, M.D, of the famous Masters and Johnson research team. At Washington University, Dr. Allen's major discoveries were of the "Blue Color Test" for DHIA (dehydroisoandrosterone) in diagnosis of adrenal tumors and the development of the "Allen Correction." The Allen Correction was a simple mathematical formula which made possible the analysis of steroids and other compounds by colorimetry. Allen was the first to administer progesterone to human subjects for treatment of uterine bleeding. Outside the laboratory, his most famous contribution was the description of the "Allen-Masters" syndrome, defined as a laceration of ligaments causing abnormal mobility of the cervix.
After his retirement from Washington University in 1971, Willard M. Allen became Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Maryland. Dr. Allen later served as Associate Dean of the medical school at the University of Maryland from 1976-1982.