Women’s History Month: Dr. Gertrude Elion, Nobel Prize winner in Medicine

Women_GertrudeElion

March is Women’s History Month. Today we’re profiling Dr. Gertrude Elion. She was born January 23, 1918 and died February 21, 1999. She was an American biochemist and pharmacologist.  In the beginning of her career, she got turned down for jobs because she was a woman. One male biochemist realized she was smart and gave her job.

Dr. Elion won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988. She also invented various drug treatments for leukemia, gout, malaria, viral herpes and the prevention of kidney transplant rejection. Dr. Elion is well known contribution was the first antiretroviral drug to treat AIDS, aziothymidine, known as AZT.

Here are parts of her biography from Nobleprize.org:

I was a child with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and remember enjoying all of my courses almost equally. When it came time at the end of my high school career to choose a major in which to specialize I was in a quandary. One of the deciding factors may have been that my grandfather, whom I loved dearly, died of cancer when I was 15. I was highly motivated to do something that might eventually lead to a cure for this terrible disease. When I entered Hunter College in 1933, I decided to major in science and, in particular, chemistry.

Over the years, my work became both my vocation and avocation. Since I enjoyed it so much, I never felt a great need to go outside for relaxation. Nevertheless, I became an avid photographer and traveler

In my professional career I was promoted frequently, and in 1967 I was appointed Head of the Department of Experimental Therapy, a position which I held until I retired in 1983. This department was sometimes termed by some of my colleagues a “mini-institute” since it contained sections of chemistry, enzymology, pharmacology, immunology and virology, as well as a tissue culture laboratory. This made it possible to coordinate our work and cooperate in a manner that was extremely useful for development of new drugs.

 

Author: Wiselatinaslinked

I'm Rebecca Aguilar the founder of Wise Latinas Linked on Facebook and Linkedin.com. We're a networking group with a combined membership of more than 9,000 Latinas. We share everything from challenges to successes in our lives. We also confront issues of racism, stereotypes, and inequality. Latinas matter.