Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921-2011)

Rosalyn S. Yalow, the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine, has died in New York City at the age of 89. Dr. Yalow earned the Nobel Prize in 1977 for her work in radioimmunoassay, a process that uses radioactive tracers to measures insulin and other substances in blood. Her work was instrumental for research in diabetes, fertility, thyroid problems, and hormonal treatments.

Dr. Yalow was born in the Bronx and went to New York public schools. She graduated from Hunter College in Manhattan with a major in physics. She was only 19 years old. Her Hunter College professor tried to secure a graduate assistantship in physics for her at Purdue University. He received a letter back saying, “She is from New York. She is Jewish. She is a woman. If you can guarantee her a job afterward, we’ll give her an assistantship.”

Several years later after working as a secretary at Columbia University, Yalow received a graduate position in physics at the University of Illinois. She earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1945 and joined the faculty at Hunter College. In 1950 she joined the staff at was then the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital, where she conducted most of her research with her long-time colleague Solomon A. Berson. She also served on the faculty at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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