Mary Styles Harris was born on June 26, 1949 in Nashville, Tennessee. Later, she moved to Miami, Florida with her family at a young age. She began reading at an early age and developed an interest in science, especially medicine. Her father was a doctor in the neighborhood they resided in. She enjoyed asking her father scientific questions and doing scientific research with him. Unfortunately he died when she was only nine years old.
When she entered high-school in 1963, she was one of the first blacks to enter Jackson High School in Miami. While in high-school she would enter local science fairs. She also volunteered at the first black owned medical laboratory. At the laboratory she learned to use technical equipment. She graduated in 1967 and was twelfth in her class of 350 people. After high-school she entered college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She was the first woman to enter the university. Although she spent most of her time with pre-med student, she received the Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship for molecular genetics scholarship. She graduated from Lincoln with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.
After she graduated, she married Sydney Harris. Later, they both attended Cornell University. He received his Masters degree and she received her Ph.D. in genetics in 1975.
After college she began working at New Jersey University doing research in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Her research brought large grants to the school. After two years she started working with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia. Most of her time was spent raising money to fight Sickle Cell Anemia. At the same time she was teaching at Morehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time Sydney and Marry Harris had their first and only child (daughter). After the birth of her child she spent five years working to screen the genetics of new born infants.
More recently, Marry Harris received money from the National Cancer