Gertrude Elion Facts

Gertrude Elion Facts
Gertrude Elion (23 January 1918 to 21 February 1999) was an American biochemist and pharmacologist. She developed many new drugs and after her retirement she continued her work on development AZT, the first effective drug for the treatment of AIDS.
Interesting Gertrude Elion Facts:
Elion was born in New York City to immigrant parents.
In 1937 she received her B.S. in chemistry from Hunter College and earned her M.S from New York University in 1941.
She worked as a lab assistant and high school teacher until 1941 when World War II created an urgent need for women in the work place.
After spending a 18 months doing boring analytical quality control for a food company, Elion was finally able to secure a position as a research assistant to George H. Hitchins at the Burroughs-Wellcome pharmaceutical company.
Elion and Hitchins studied the biochemical difference between normal cells and pathogens to create effective drugs that would destroy the pathogen without harming the host.
The list of drugs she developed is very impressive and includes:
6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol) which was the first treatment for leukemia.
Azathioprine (Imuran) the first immuno-suppressive agent and a drug that is still in use to prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
Trimethoprim (Septra) is effective against bacterial meningitis, septicemia and other bacterial infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts.
Acyclovir (Zovirax) was one of the first effective anti-viral drugs and is used in the treatment of various infections with the Herpes virus.
Although circumstances prevented Elion from getting her PhD, in her later years she received Honorary Doctorates from George Washington University, Brown University and the University of Michigan in recognition of her tremendous contributions to the world of medicine.
She retired from the laboratory in 1983.
In 1988 she shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Hitchins and Sir James Black.
She was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1990, received the National Medal of Science in 1991 and the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.


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