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Benjamin Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson after receiving the Lilly Award from the American Diabetes Association in 1957.

VA, Yalow assumed the leadership of their lab, in title as well as in practice. In April 1972, Berson suffered a fatal heart attack while attending the FASEB meeting in Atlantic City.

AP

RIA made Berson and Yalow famous in the scientific community. In 1957 and 1961, they received the Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association—the first of many honors and awards. They were intellectual equals, and their work was seamlessly integrated. But Berson was the physician. Berson belonged to the professional medical societies, which at that time included few women and no Ph.Ds. And the charismatic Berson cultivated a broad clinical network. Yalow was less flashy—the steady, analytical partner. She was more interested in the lab than developing social contacts (2). Eloquent and genial, Berson wrote the first drafts of most of their papers and delivered virtually all of the invited lectures. But while he was willing to stand at the podium and make the acceptance speeches, he insisted that Yalow be named as a corecipient on their awards (2). Several times, Berson had refused chairmanship offers from medical schools. Finally in 1968, he agreed to become chairman of the Department of Medicine at the new Mount Sinai School of Medicine (2). Although he continued to collaborate part-time at the Bronx

Dr. Rosalyn Yalow

Emerging Solo For Yalow, Berson’s death was devastating, but any doubts about her contributions to their partnership were soon put to rest. She assumed full responsibility for writing and speaking. Over the next five years, her lab published 60 papers. She stepped out of Berson’s shadow to speak at scientific conferences, and she was good at it (2). Frequently, she turned to Aaron for advice. He preferred teaching to research, but he read and critiqued every paper and every speech she wrote. His soft-spoken, scholarly demeanor belied a strength of character. He steadfastly supported his ambitious wife and was genuinely proud of her accomplishments (2). Like Berson, Yalow fully acknowledged her partner’s contributions. She arranged to have the lab renamed the Solomon A. Berson Research Laboratory, ensuring that every paper she published would include his name, as long as she was there (2, 3). The Berson Laboratory conducted key studies of parathyroid and gastrointestinal hormones and identified multiple molecular forms of peptide hormones (e.g., gastrin-34, gastrin-17, and gastrin-14) (1, 2). Building on the work of other investigators, Yalow and her research associate, Eugene Straus, reported that cholecystokinin (CCK) in the brain is identical to that found in the gut (3). Then, using immunohistochemical techniques, they established

Reprinted from The Pharmacologist • September 2017

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...