A3: Epithet Epitaph – Sara E. Branham Matthews

The aerobic gram-negative diplococcus bacteria  Branhamella catarrhalis or  Moraxella catarralis, is a pathogen of the upper respiratory tract,  middle ear, eye, central nervous system and joints in humans. It was originally thought to be a commensal strain of bacteria found in the throat and mouth, but starting in the late 1980s it was found to be the source of many cases of bronchitis, pneumonia, otitis media and sinusitis. Originally classified under the Branhamella  genus,  named after Sara E. Branham Matthews, it was moved to the Moraxella genus, named after Victor Morax, after several DNA hybridization and 16s rRNA studies justified its classification as a Moraxella bacteria.

Sara Elizabeth Branham Matthews  was a woman of great academic ambition. She was born in Oxford, Georgia in 1888 to a wealthy family who was ahead of their time in terms of women and higher education. Over the course of her life she received seven different academic degrees including a B.S. in chemistry and zoology, a Ph.D in bacteriology and a Medical Degree. She was also a member of many scientific boards and fellowships including the National Institutes of Health, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Pathology and the American Academy of Microbiology. She has many accomplishments accredited to her name with one of her greatest achievements being the cure to spinal meningitis. Over her lifetime, she was published on 70 papers in professional journals and co-authored two books. She died in 1962 and is currently buried with her husband, Philip S. Matthews in the Oxford Historical Cemetery.



Barriero, B., L. Esteban, E. Prats, E. Verdaguer, J. Dorca and F. Manresa. 1992. Branhamella catarrhalis respiratory infections. Eur Respir J. 5:675-679.

Branhamella catarrhalis. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from  https://www.msdsonline.com/resources/sds-resources/free-safety-data-sheet-index/branhamella-catarrhalis/

Moraxella catarrhalis. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moraxella_catarrhalis

Sara E. Branham. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from  https://www.oxfordhistoricalsociety.org/sara-e-branham.html

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