1921-

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow

Location: Second Floor, West Wing, North Wall, Sequence 6

Source: Dr. Yalow

Sponsor: Victoria McGuffin
Elizabeth S. Rimpau
Ramon F. Rolf


Yalow, together with Dr. Solomon A. Berson, explored the use of radioisotopes in the diagnosis and treatment of disease at the VA hospital in the Bronx, NY, and, in 1959, came up with the revolutionary method of radioimmunoassay (RIA). Invented to measure the amount of insulin in the blood of diabetics through competition between the radioactive iodine-labelled and unlabelled peptide for antibodies, RIA subsequently allowed Yalow and others to resolve scores of other medical problems. RIA can be used to detect drugs in tissues or body fluids, to screen blood banks for hepatitis virus, to measure even infinitesimal concentrations of hormones, enzymes, vitamins and tumor antigens, among others. Yalow shared the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, becoming the first American woman to receive a Nobel in science, and the second woman to do so in medicine. Often subject to both sexist and religious discrimination, Yalow said "I never thought that there was anything the matter with me. I just feel sorry for the discriminators".