Page 84

small but efficiently run research facility, it was Yalow who convinced Berson to take them on (2). The first of this revolving cadre of research fellows assisted and coauthored the “insulin globulin” paper. To the research fellows, they were simply Sol and Ros. Sol was volatile, whereas Ros was stable and politically savvy. Sol moved seamlessly from bench to bedside—always with a firm grip on technology, science, and philosophy—but he was somewhat aloof. Ros was the research fellows’ main lab mentor. She called them her “professional children” (2, 3, 12). Ros was unpretentious and could talk to anyone, regardless of their background. Even as a graduate student, she had a knack for explaining the most complicated concept in terms that anyone could understand. She immediately connected with the research fellows and was always ready with suggestions and guidance (2). Rather than lecturing, she was a good role model and offered constant encouragement. But it was tough love. She judged her own success by the discoveries she made, and she measured others by the same yardstick. Ultimately, her research fellows, as well as science-oriented young women—and even her own grandson—had to make it on their own merit. She gave no free passes (12). Ros infused the research fellows with scientific curiosity and fostered the “chain of discovery,” so that this next generation could build on her accomplishments (12). And they did. Many of her professional children became leaders in medicine and clinical research (2, 3). She took pride and, rightly, a measure of credit for their success. Ros was comfortable around men. She earned their respect and admiration through hard, high-quality work, and she never backed down. As one of them said, “Anyone planning to argue with Rosalyn Yalow would be well advised to be properly prepared” (2). Her relationships with women were more complex. By her own account, she was stubborn and aggressive—traits that did not endear her to many women. She refused awards for the “best woman (anything)” (2, 12). She aspired to be the best—period! Ros proactively encouraged bright young women to pursue a career in science, as she had done. But she

Reprinted from The Pharmacologist • September 2017

2015 General Electric Company – Reproduced by permission of the owner

82

First commercial radioimmunoassay kit

was critical of women scientists—even fellow Nobel Laureates—who had no children. She also criticized women who had relinquished their careers to become soccer moms. She maintained a woman could and should do both.

Successes and Consequences The first applications of RIA were in endocrinology. Peptide hormones could be detected at 10-40 to 10-42 molar concentrations. In addition to insulin, Yalow and Berson studied the modulation of gastrin, which triggers gastric acid secretion, and their findings greatly facilitated diagnosis and treatment of thyroid, growth, and fertility hormone dysfunctions (3, 4). In 1965, Amersham produced the first commercial RIA kit (for insulin), and by the end of the decade, RIA had become an indispensable tool. Labs around the world were using RIAs to detect and quantitate minute amounts of enzymes, drugs, and other substances, as well as hormones (1, 4). Everyone working in a biochemistry lab wore a dosimeter. In Yalow and Berson’s lab, John Walsh developed the first RIA for a virus. This assay of hepatitisassociated antigen was a breakthrough in infectious disease management (2). Blood banks quickly adopted it to screen donated blood and prevent transfusiontransmitted hepatitis (3, 4).

Profile for ASPET

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...