Helen FitzGerald Cserr was born on June 23, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts. She joined the Brown University faculty in 1970 after serving as a researcher at Harvard University, where she received a Ph.D. in physiology in 1965. She was also a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont where she received her B.A. in chemistry.
During her time at Brown, Cserr joined Louise Lamphere, Claude Carey, and Patricia Russian, in suing Brown for sex discrimination when she was denied tenure. At the time, Cserr was assistant professor of biomedical sciences. In 1978 she was awarded retroactive tenure. She became professor of physiology at Brown and her research focused on the anatomy and mechanism of the human brain.
Cserr was a coeditor of Fluid Environment of the Brain (1975) and author of The Neuronal Microenvironment (1987). In 1992 Brown honored her excellence in teaching and research by naming her the Esther Elizabeth Brintzenhoff Professor of Medical Science.
Cserr died of a brain tumor at age 57 in August 1994. A symposium on lymphatic drainage of the brain was held in England in her honor. Brown established a Helen FitzGerald Cserr fellowship position as well as the Helen FitzGerald Cserr Memorial Fund.