This past week Mount Sinai has lost a pioneering woman scientist, one who has been associated with the School of Medicine since the 1960s: Rosalyn Yalow, Ph.D. died on May 30th. Her's is a remarkable story of achievement in the face of opposition, of perserverence, of hard work and great loyalty. Dr. Yalow was the first woman at Hunter College to major in physics; she was the only woman faculty member in her graduate physics program. At Mount Sinai, she became the only woman Distinguished Service Professor.
Dr. Yalow spent her career working at a laboratory at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital (now the James J. Peters VA Medical Center) first in the nuclear physics laboratory and then as head of the Radioisotope Service. In 1950 she began collaborating with a clinician named Solomon Berson, MD. From 1956 until 1960 they developed a new technique that revolutionized endocrinology: radioimmunassay (RIA). This allowed scientists to determine the amount of insulin and all other peptide hormones in the blood or other body fluids and tissues. Their work led to advances in many areas of medicine and made millions of lives better. Drs. Yalow and Berson never patented their technique, allowing free use and faster developments for the good of patients and medicine.
When Dr. Berson became the Chairman of Medicine at the new Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1968, Dr. Yalow joined the Mount Sinai faculty. They never moved their laboratory from the Bronx, and Dr. Yalow remained there while Dr. Berson would appear when he could. Four short years later, he died of a heart attack leaving her to run the lab on her own. She did.
A Google search will turn up articles about the Lasker Prize she won in 1976 and then the Nobel Prize she received in 1977 for the development of RIA and her subsequent contributions in science. The Nobel Prize website has an autobiographical essay she wrote summing up her career.
And now there are many obituaries being written about Dr. Yalow. The world has lost a remarkable woman.