Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921-Present)

Her interest in physics was piqued when she heard the noted physicist, Enrico Fermi, speak about the new field of nuclear physics. After graduating with honors from Hunter College, she overcame formidable discrimination against women but entered the University of Illinois’s College of Engineering Physics Department. She was the only woman among 400 men.

She received her Ph.D. in nuclear physics and after a few research jobs, she went to Bronx Veterans’ Hospital laboratory to follow her dream. She helped discovered how to use radioisotopes to measure levels of tiny amounts of hormones in the human blood system. This method, called RIA, is crucial to determining conditions like hypothyroidism in infants, which can be treated upon diagnosis. After being passed over twice, Dr. Yalow received the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1977, the second women ever to be so honored.

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