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Women of the Hall

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Year Honored: 1991
Birth: 1918 - Death: 1999
Born In: ,
Died In: ,
Achievements: Science
Educated In:
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Worked In:

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Gertrude Belle Elion

Gertrude Elion is one of the nation's most distinguished research scientists, and her Nobel Prize in 1988 capped a career devoted to research to combat some of the world's most dangerous diseases. Elion, working predominantly with George Hitchings, has created drugs to combat leukemia, gout, malaria, herpes and autoimmune disorders. She and Hitchings devised a system for designing drugs that led to the development of the AIDS drug AZT. In the 1950s she pioneered the development of two drugs that interfered with the reproductive process of cancer cells to cause remissions in childhood leukemia. In 1957 she created the first immuno-suppressive agent, leading to successful organ transplants. In 1977, her work led to the development of the first drug used against viral herpes. Gertrude Elion, who lost her grandfather and mother to cancer, has never lost sight of the human beings whose lives her research affects. She has said, "When you meet someone who has lived for 25 years with a kidney graft, there's your reward."
Additional Sources:
McGrayne, Sharon B. Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries. Carol Publishing, 1998. NOTES: 2nd edition: Washinton, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press, 2001.

St. Pierre, Stephanie. Gertrude Elion: Master Chemist. Vero Beach, Florida: Rourke Enterprises, 1993. NOTES: ""Masters of Invention"": series. Juvenile literature.

Bowden, Mary Ellen, Amy Beth Crow, and Tracy Sullivan. Pharmaceutical Achievers. Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2001.

Interview between Elion and M.E. Avery, May 1997. Part of the Alpha Omega Alpha Oral History Project, 1997. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.