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!