Rosalyn Yalow was the second woman and the first American-born and educated woman to win a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Rosalyn passed away in 2011 at the age of 89.
The award was made in 1977 for the discovery of radioimmunoassay (RIA), which is a technique that allows scientists to measure minute amounts of many different substances in the blood by tagging them with radioactive tracers. RIA’s ability to measure tiny amounts of substances has made more difference in medical research than any technique since the X-ray.
This method is used in thousands of laboratories around the world to measure hundreds of substances of biologic interest in blood and other bodily fluids. Today, RIA is used to measure hormones, vitamins, enzymes, toxins, and other substances that, before this invention, were too small for physicians to detect.
In 1981, Rosalyn helped found the World Cultural Council, an international organization that promotes cultural values, goodwill, and philanthropy by granting awards to outstanding scientists, educators, and artists. Rosalyn also worked as a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and as a research professor in the department of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Her start in the medical field was right after she graduated when she began setting up the radioisotope service at Bronx Veterans Administration Medical Center. It was there that she began her work developing RIA.
On top of the Nobel Peace Prize, Rosalyn has received numerous awards. Among her awards are the Fulbright fellowship, the William S. Middleton Award for Excellence in Research, the American Medical Association’s Scientific Achievement Award, and the National Medal of Science. She was also the recipient of 54 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States and abroad.