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Her teaching assignment was a freshman physics course. Like the other first-year teaching assistants, she had never taught before. But unlike them, she identified a young instructor who had an excellent reputation and refined her teaching skills by observing him in his classes (2, 3). For her thesis research in nuclear physics, Rosalyn spent long days and many nights in the laboratory. In the process, she learned to make and use apparatus for measuring radioactive substances—skills that were in high demand during the war. She earned her master’s degree in 1942 and her Ph.D. in February 1945 (2-4).

Because commercial instrumentation did not exist, she made or designed much of the equipment they used

Applied Research Researchers were increasingly being drawn to peaceful applications of radioactivity, particularly for clinical diagnosis

Reprinted with permission from the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.

In addition, Rosalyn had met and married a physics classmate, Aaron Yalow. Although he had arrived better prepared for graduate school, she finished a full semester before him—and everyone else in their class. With the war still raging, she took a position in New York City in the Federal Telecommunications Laboratory of IT&T, a European firm. She was the lab’s only female engineer (3, 4). In September 1945, Aaron finished his Ph.D. degree, joined her in New York, and accepted a position in medical physics at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx (2). After the war, the IT&T research group moved to Europe, and Rosalyn returned to Hunter College as a temporary assistant professor. She taught physics to the undergraduate women and to returning veterans in a preengineering program that had been established under the GI Bill (3, 5). But the job did not fill her time or further her research interests.

and therapy (4). This emerging field of nuclear medicine needed nuclear physicists who knew how to produce and handle radioisotopes (2). At Aaron’s suggestion, Rosalyn met with Edith Quimby, a leading medical physicist at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and arranged to observe Quimby’s lab workers (2, 3). Everyone noticed Rosalyn, who was analytical and quickly learned clinical radioisotope tracer techniques (2-4). One day, Quimby received a call from Bernard Roswit, Chief of Radiotherapy at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital. Roswit was seeking advice about starting a clinical radioisotope service (2, 4). Quimby took Rosalyn to see her boss, Gioacchino Failla, a pioneer in biophysics and radiobiology. After a short discussion, Failla picked up the phone and said, “Bernie, if you want to set up a radioisotope service, I have someone here you must hire” (3). Roswit had already launched the Radioisotope Unit at the Bronx VA Hospital, but little was done until Rosalyn arrived in December 1947 (2). She was still teaching full-time at Hunter College, but this energetic part-time consultant soon turned an old janitor’s closet into a functioning radioisotope service (3, 5). For Rosalyn’s research aspirations, the timing could not have been better. Paul B. Magnuson, the new

Old Bronx VA Hospital

Reprinted from The Pharmacologist • September 2017

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2018 Special Compilation Issue of The Pharmacologist  

ASPET is pleased to present the second in a series of special editions of our quarterly news magazine, The Pharmacologist. This special com...

2018 Special Compilation Issue of The Pharmacologist  

ASPET is pleased to present the second in a series of special editions of our quarterly news magazine, The Pharmacologist. This special com...