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Rosalyn S. Yalow
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Scientist
    (July 19, 1921-May 30, 2011)
    Born in Bronx, New York
    Birth name was Rosalyn Sussman
    With Solomon Berson, developed radioimmunoassay (RIA), a technique using radioactive isotopes and antibodies to measure small quantities of biological substances
    Co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1977)
    She was stubborn, noting 'My mother said it was fortunate that I chose to do acceptable things, for if I had chosen otherwise, no one could have deflected me from my path.'
    She was a workaholic who had no hobbies and traveled only to give lectures and attend conferences.
    Her and Berson's first paper on RIA, reporting its use to measure insulin levels in diabetics, was rejected by 'Science' and 'The Journal of Chemical Investigation' because it went against the prevailing wisdom that hormones like insulin were too small to trigger an antibody response.
    Some people criticized her for not sharing her Nobel Prize money with the family of Berson, who had died in 1972.
    She graduated high school at age 15 and from City College of New York at 19.
    She had trouble getting into graduate school because, as Purdue put it, 'She is a woman. She is Jewish. She is from New York.'
    She got into the University of Illinois as a teaching assistant when an opening was left because so many men were being drafted into the armed forces.
    Despite its commercial potential, she and Berson refused to take out a patent on RIA in order to encourage its use by other scientists.
    After Berson died, she asked that the RIA lab be named after him so his name would continue to appear on her scientific papers.
    She said, 'Initially, new ideas are rejected. Later, they become dogma if you're right. And if you're really lucky, you can publish your rejections as part of your Nobel presentation.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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