Dr. Lubchenco was born in Russian Turkestan in 1915, but her family immigrated to the US when she was still a toddler, moving first to South Carolina and later to Colorado. She attended Denver University as an undergrad and obtained her MD at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1939. She completed her residency and research fellowship at Denver Children's Hospital. She became the first medical director of the Colorado General Hospital Premature Infant Center when it was established in 1947.
Dr. Lubchenco systematically studied the relationship between gestational age and birthweight, and showed that not all low birth weight (LBW) babies are premature. She published the first intrauterine weight chart for babies based on verified gestational ages. This chart was fondly known as the "Lulagram." The terms small for gestational age (SGA), and appropriate for gestational age (AGA), large for gestational age (LGA), which we all use routinely today, grew out of her work.
(Lubchenco L.O., Hansman C., Dressler M., et al.: Intrauterine growth: a standard derived from liveborn infants 24 to 42 weeks of gestation. Pediatrics. 1963; 32: 793-800.)
Among her many other contributions to the young field of Neonatology, Dr. Lubchenco was the first to demonstrate an association between oxgen use and retinopathy of prematurity (known at that time as retrolental fibroplasia, or RLF) by comparing its incidence pre- and post-1950, when use of oxygen for prematures became commonplace.
Dr. Lubchenco passed away in 2001.