Rosalyn Yalow: Nobel Laureate - Her Life and Work in Medicine

Rosalyn Yalow: Nobel Laureate - Her Life and Work in Medicine

by Eugene Straus
     
 

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The biography of Rosalyn Yalow, as told by her longtime friend and colleague Eugene Straus, is the story of a woman who prevailed against class and gender prejudice to reach the pinnacle of the science world. Yalow’s story is related against the backdrop of her later years, when, after having won the Nobel Prize in medicine for inventing a revolutionary test

Overview

The biography of Rosalyn Yalow, as told by her longtime friend and colleague Eugene Straus, is the story of a woman who prevailed against class and gender prejudice to reach the pinnacle of the science world. Yalow’s story is related against the backdrop of her later years, when, after having won the Nobel Prize in medicine for inventing a revolutionary test for certain kinds of hormones, she was suddenly felled by a stroke and brought to a hospital where, unrecognized, she was “dumped” as a charity case onto another hospital. Straus’s account of Yalow’s slow but ultimate triumph over crippling illness is of a piece with that of the dazzlingly talented and tenacious young woman who, despite the barriers placed before her by a male-dominated medical establishment, never compromised her principles of hard work and scientific integrity.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
In 1977 Rosalyn Yalow was awarded the Nobel Prize for her pioneering work in RIA, or radioimmunoassay. At that time few female scientists had been awarded this distinction. In the early fifties Yalow published with her research collaborator, Solomon Berson, the first of many articles on using radioisotopes to determine blood volume. This test was to have far-ranging implications, allowing physicians and researchers to measure low concentrations of all sorts of substances in the blood. The partnership of Yalow and Berson was considered to be brilliant: before Berson's death in 1972 it was assumed that they were in line for a Nobel Prize. After his death the high prize was no longer a certainty (the Nobel is never awarded posthumously) and the author implies that other researchers tried to take credit for the Berson/Yalow research. Five years later, after publishing an additional 60 scientific papers from the laboratory named after her fellow researcher, their work was recognized. Yalow's acceptance speech was short and to the point. She said that women had been the focus of "social and professional discrimination" in the field of science, and that the "world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems that beset us." Rosalyn Yalow is elderly and her health is not good. A number of people oversee her care, including Dr. Straus, the author, a fellow researcher, physician and friend of Yalow. He defines this book as a biographical memoir: he knows her well and is a sympathetic biographer. Each chapter begins with a description of her physical and medical condition in her mid-seventies when illness sent her to a nursing home. Strausinterviewed people connected with Yalow over the years, including long sessions with her son and daughter. Most of these interviews speak for themselves; the reader is free to interpret what is said. The life of this eminent scientist was not without misinterpretation; Yalow was criticized for the way she raised her children and for her close relationship with Berson. The author tells of the single-minded scientist getting up early in the morning, walking to the research laboratory and coming home to fix both breakfast and lunch for her children. Yalow structured her life so that she could be an excellent mother, wife and scientist with the minimum amount of fuss. Recovering from illness was tackled with the same tenacity as everything else she had done in her life. In a volume complete with many photographs one of the most interesting is a picture of Yalow speaking to a group of girls during her stay in the nursing home. In the course of the memoir the author discusses present-day health care, the state of scientific research and women in science and in these subjects the reader is treated to the author's own thought-provoking biases. We may never have an autobiography of the brilliant Rosalyn Yalow. If we don't, this volume will do nicely. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Perseus Books, 277p, 24cm, 99-066856, $16.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Penelope Power; Libn., Garrison Forest Sch., Garrison, MD, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Booknews
In 1977, Rosalyn Yalow, known as the "Madame Curie from the Bronx," was the second woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in medicine. In this biography (reprint of the 1998 publication), a colleague reveals the extraordinary intelligence and determination that led her to overcome countless obstacles as a woman scientist in a man's world. The author is professor of medicine at the State University of New York Health Science Center and a former colleague of Yallow's at Montefiore Medical Center. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738202631
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/17/1999
Pages:
294
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.64(d)
Lexile:
1250L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Eugene Straus, M.D., is professor of medicine and chief of digestive diseases at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn. He was co-chairman with Rosalyn Yalow of the Department of Clinical Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center. He lives in New York City.

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