Elizabeth Bishop Davis was born April 26, 1920, the daughter of the Rev. Shelton Hale Bishop, an Episcopal clergyman who was Rector of St. Philip's Church in Harlem. She was graduated from Barnard College and received her M.D. from the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, in 1949.
After an internship at Harlem Hospital, she had residencies at both the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. She received her psychoanalytic certificate from the latter institution in 1955.
In the early 1960s, New York City Commissioner of Hospitals Ray Trussell began forging relationships between municipal hospitals and private schools of medicine in hopes of improving care for the mostly indigent population of the city's hospital system. The College of Physicians & Surgeons (P&S) was paired with Harlem Hospital, a process that led Trussell to ask Davis to become Director of Harlem's newly-established Department of Psychiatry. Davis held the position from 1962 to 1978 and became an authority on providing psychiatric care in an inner-city setting. She also taught at P&S from 1957 on, becoming a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in 1971 and a Professor Emerita in 1978. She died February 1, 2010 in New York City.