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Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (born July 19, 1921) is an American medical physicist, and a co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her development of the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique.



Born in New York City to Simon Sussman and Clara Zipper, Dr. Yalow attended Walton High School and graduated in 1941 from Hunter College, where she developed an interest in physics.

As she knew how to type, she obtained 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 Sussman studied stenography and took a job as a secretary to Michael Heidelberger, another biochemist at Columbia. She graduated from Hunter College in January 1941.

In mid-February she received an offer of a teaching assistantship in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because World War II came up and many men went off to war and the university offered scholarships for women rather than close down. That summer she took two tuition-free physics courses under government auspices at New York University. At the University of Illinois, she was the only woman among the department's 400 members, and the first since 1917. She married fellow student Aaron Yalow in 1943, and received her Ph.D. in 1945. After graduating, Yalow joined the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital to help set up its radioisotope service. There she collaborated with Solomon Berson to develop RIA, a radioisotope tracing technique that allows the measurement of tiny quantities of various biological substances in the blood. Originally used to study insulin levels in diabetes mellitus,[1] the technique has since been applied to hundreds of other substances – including hormones, vitamins and enzymes – all previously too small to detect. Despite its huge commercial potential, Yalow and Berson refused to patent the method.

In 1968, Yallow was appointed Research Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she later became the Solomon Berson Distinguished Professor at Large.[2]

In 1975 Yalow and Berson received the AMA Scientific Achievement Award. The following year she became the first female recipient of the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. In 1977 she received the Nobel Prize, together with Roger Guillemin and Andrew V. Schally. Berson had died in 1972, and so could not share the latter prizes. She received the National Medal of Science in 1988.

Dr. Yalow still lives in the same house in Riverdale, Bronx, New York that she bought when she first began working at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital in the 1940s.[3]


  1. ^ Yalow RS, Berson SA. Immunoassay of endogenous plasma insulin in man. J Clin Invest 1960;39:1157-75. PMID 13846364.
  2. ^ Niss, Barbara. This House of Noble Deeds: The Mount Sinai Hospital, 1852–2002, New York: NYU Press, 2002, ISBN 0814705006
  3. ^ Rosalyn Yalow Autobiography, Nobel Prize. Accessed February 24, 2008. "During that period Aaron and I had two children, Benjamin and Elanna. We bought a house in Riverdale, less than a mile from the VA."

See also

Further reading

  • Patton, Dennis D (2002), "Three Nobelists who paved the way.", J. Nucl. Med. 43 (3): 25N–28N, 2002 Mar, PMID 11911104  
  • Kyle, Robert A; Shampo, Marc A (2002), "Rosalyn Yalow--pioneer in nuclear medicine.", Mayo Clin. Proc. 77 (1): 4, 2002 Jan, doi:10.4065/77.1.4, PMID 11794457  
  • Raju, T N (1999), "The Nobel chronicles. 1977: Roger Charles Louis Guillemin (b 1924); Andrew Victor Schally (b 1926); Rosalyn S Yalow (b 1921).", Lancet 354 (9188): 1481, 1999 Oct 23, PMID 10543707  
  • "Festschrift for Rosalyn S. Yalow: hormones, metabolism, and society.", Mt. Sinai J. Med. 59 (2): 95–185, 1992, 1992 Mar, PMID 1574076  
  • Yalow, R S; Berson, S A (1996), "Immunoassay of endogenous plasma insulin in man. 1960.", Obes. Res. 4 (6): 583–600, 1996 Nov, PMID 8946444  
  • Straus, E W (1992), "Festschrift for Rosalyn S. Yalow: Hormones, metabolism, and society.", Mt. Sinai J. Med. 59 (2): 95–100, 1992 Mar, PMID 1574075  
  • Yalow, R S (1992), "The Nobel lectures in immunology. The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1977 awarded to Rosalyn S. Yalow.", Scand. J. Immunol. 35 (1): 1–23, 1992 Jan, PMID 1734492  
  • Goldsmith, S J (1987), "Georg de Hevesy Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Award Citation--1986. Rosalyn S. Yalow and Solomon A. Berson.", J. Nucl. Med. 28 (10): 1637–9, 1987 Oct, PMID 3309206  
  • "Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1977 awarded to Veterans Administration senoior investigators.", American journal of physical medicine 57 (1): 44–5, 1978, 1978 Feb, PMID 345822  
  • Yanaihara, N (1978), "[1977 Nobel Prize winners in medicine and physiology]", Tanpakushitsu Kakusan Koso 23 (3): 232–6, PMID 349610  
  • Schwartz, I L, "Solomon A. Berson and Rosalyn S. Yalow: a scientific appreciation.", Mt. Sinai J. Med. 40 (3): 284–94, PMID 4351488  

External links



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