because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rosalyn Yalow

Born in 1921, even though she was destined to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine some years later, in-your-face woman Rosalyn Yalow had to use her typing skills and learn how to take dictation to get through college working as a secretary. Then, she caught a break. World War II sent so many men into war that graduate schools let women in just to stay open. And Yalow was one of those women.

By the end of the war, Yalow had graduated with her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the only woman in a class of 400. Taking a position at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital, she collaborated with Solomon Berson to develop a radioisotope tracing technique that allowed tiny quantities of substance in human blood (or other aqueous solutions) to be measured. This made it possible to measure hormones, viruses, drugs, insulin and other substances too small to see under a microscope. The technique could have made Yalow and Berson very, very rich, but they refused to patent it, believing that it should be available to help humans in general, rather than just the ones who could afford to pay through the nose for it.

In 1975, Yalow was awarded the American Medical Association Scientific Achievement Award. In 1976, she received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. And in 1977, she was awarded the Nobel Prize. Imagine what the human race would have lost if she had just stayed a secretary working for other scientists after she graduated from college in New York. Or if war hadn't opened up one slot for her to study at the University of Illinois. Or if she had prioritized her husband and two children and the kosher home she kept over her work in the laboratory.

What is Yalow's message to the in-your-face women of the present world, who stand on the brink of their own futures? "We still live in a world in which a significant fraction of people, including women, believe that a woman belongs and wants to belong exclusively in the home; that a woman should not aspire to achieve more than her male counterparts and particularly not more than her husband...The world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems which beset us." Listen up!

1 comment:

  1. Science Association, Shardabai Pawar Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Shardanagar, Malegaon(Baramati) Dist. Pune – 413115.

    Objective: To Establish the Repository of Scientific Information For The Society.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------30 May: Birth Anniversary of Rosalyn S. Yalow

    (Birth: 19 July,1921)
    (Death: 30 May, 2011)
    Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (July 19, 1921 – May 30, 2011) was an American medical physicist, and a co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (together with Roger Guillemin and Andrew Schally) for development of the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique. She was the second American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine after Gerty Cori.[2]
    She was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Clara (née Zipper) and Simon Sussman. She attended Walton High School.
    Knowing how to type, she won a part-time position as secretary to Dr. Rudolf Schoenheimer, a leading biochemist at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Not believing that any good graduate school would admit and provide financial support to a woman, she took a job as a secretary to Michael Heidelberger, another biochemist at Columbia, who hired her on the condition that she studied stenography. She graduated from Hunter College in January 1941.[3]
    In mid-February of that aforementioned year she received an offer of a teaching assistantship in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the primary reason being that World War II commenced and many men went off to war and the university decided to offer scholarships for women rather than shut down. That summer she took two tuition-free physics courses under government auspices at New York University. Rosalyn Yalow died on May 30, 2011, aged 89, in The Bronx from undisclosed causes.
    File: Dr.APIS.30.May@Rosalyn.S.Yalow
    Compiled For : Science Association, Shardabai Pawar Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Shardanagar; Tal. Baramati; Dist. Pune – 413115 (India).

    With the Best Compliments From: Shardanagar (The Agro – academic Heritage of Grandsire Padmashri Dr. D. G. Alias Appasaheb Pawar).