Updated: Dec 27, 2019
According to author Pamela Proffitt in her book, she said, Roslyn Sussman Yalow a "Notable Women Scientist." Roslyn Sussman Yalow mother was from Germany who immigrated to the United States at the age of four years old. Also, her father was a United States citizen and, he was a resident of the Lower East Side of the Bronx. He was born to Russian immigrant parents, and he also was a proprietor of a small business. Yalow was born on July 19, 1921, in the Bronx, New York. Both of her parents did not receive a higher level of education, but they encouraged her to pursue her academic success. Yalow also credits her father for her high educational achievements, and he also taught her that females have the same learning abilities as males.
Furthermore, Yalow and her older brother Alexander did not own any books at home thy visited the public library regularly, which led to an increased in her reading skills, and she became an avid reader before attending Kindergarten. During Yalow's childhood she became very interested in mathematics while attending Walton High School in the Bronx, her interest changed to science, especially chemistry. After her high school graduation, Yalow continued her education at Hunter College, a school for women that eventually became part of the University of New York. As a student two of the physics professors, Dr. Herbert Otis and Dr. Duane Roller acknowledged that she excelled academically in physics.
It was in the late 1930's that Yalow decided to choose physics as her major, an era when the discovery of a variety of advanced nuclear physics. In 1939 an American physicist named Enrico Fermi gave a lecture about the development of nuclear fission, which had earned him the Nobel Prize the previous year. This information had ignited her passion for the field, and she was very inspired. Yalow experienced sexual bias because academically physics was a career dominated by males. Yalow acknowledged society's career choices for women was not physics. In 1930, women were expected to choose professions such as teachers and secretaries.
At the meanwhile, Yalow's parent encouraged her to choose a career as an elementary school teacher. Yalow was unaware of her college and financial assistance status. However, due to her enthusiastic physics professors and her passiveness, she overcame defeat. On the other hand, Yalow had to reassess her plans towards finding an alternate route to attend graduate school. Furthermore, one of Yalow's earlier professors from Hunter College contacted Dr. Rufolf Schoenheimer, a biochemist at Columbia University for a job as a secretary.
This arrangement was set up to offer Yalow an opportunity to continue her education in physics, then eventually leading her into graduate school, and later towards pursuing a degree. However, Yalow's situation changed for the best, and she never needed her plan. One month after her graduation from Hunter College in January, of 1941, she was offered a teaching assistant position at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, in the physics department.
At the University of Illinois, the College of Engineering Yalow endured many sexual biases that prevented her from gaining acceptance into the physics graduate program. For example, in 1941 upon entering the University in September, she was the only woman in the Engineering faculty, which included four hundred professors and teaching assistants.
For instance, she was the first female to receive an education at the college for more than two decades. The main reason for her gaining acceptance into the prestigious graduate school was, because most of the males were drafted into the armed services at an increased rate, to enter World War II. There fore, there was a shortage of men candidates, and she realized that. However, Yalow's strong work ethics had contributed to her success in her first year in graduate school. She had a challenging schedule, in addition to her classwork and teaching duties, Yalow took extra undergraduate courses to increase her knowledge. Despite her hectic schedule she managed to excel academically, receiving all A's in her classes, except an A- in an optics laboratory course.
"World of Microbiology and Immunology" states that while Yalow was in graduate school, she met Aaron Yalow, on her first day of school. However, within two years they were married on June 6, 1943. In 1942 Yalow received her master's degree and her doctorate in 1945; she was the second female to obtain a PhD. in physics at the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. Roslyn and her husband Aaron relocated to New York City, to work. She eventually gave birth to two children, a boy named Benjamin and a girl named Elanna.
After graduation, the Yalow's first job was as an assistant electrical engineer at the Federal Telecommunications Laboratory, a private research lab. In 1946, Yalow was the only female engineer employee at the lab. She began her teaching career at Hunter College; and continued to be a physic lecturer until 1950. Also, she became associated with the Veterans Administration by becoming a consultant to Bronx VA Hospital. The VA Hospital needed someone to set up a research program to to explore the usage of medical radioactive substances. However, in 1950's Yalow had a fully equipped radioisotope laboratory at the Bronx VA Hospital and decided to quit teaching to focus all her attention on full time research.
During that same, year Yalow met Solomon A. Berson, a physician who had just finished his residency in at the VA Hospital. Both of them worked together as a team until his death in 1972. However, their work ethics complimented each other Yalow maintained strengths in physics, Math, and chemistry, while Berson had accumulated clinical expertise. Yalow and Berson discovered new alternatives for radioactive isotopes usage in the measurement of blood volume, the study of iodine metabolism, and the diagnosis of thyroid disease. A couple of years later, they began to research adult-onset diabetes using radioisotopes a radioactive isotope. This assignment gradually led them to the groundbreaking radioimmunoassay, a technique that uses radioactive isotopes to measure small amounts of bodily fluids.
During the 1950's, scientists discovered the production of insulin remained normal in adult-onset diabetes, but there is an enzyme that quickly destroys the peptide hormone, that prevents the metabolism of naturally producing glucose. However, when they compared juvenile diabetes, the production of insulin in the pan and non-diabetic individuals, to measure the rate at which the insulin evaporated.
Both Yalow and Berson were amazed by their predictions on the liver enzyme. They found out that the amount of radioactively labeled insulin in the blood of diabetics was higher; than those individuals of the control group, who had never received insulin injections before. As Yalow and Berson researched further, they have concluded that people with diabetes were forming antibodies against animal insulin, which controlled their disease.Furthermore, these antibodies were binding to radiolabeled insulin, and sugar was an addition to the metabolism, which prevented it from entering the cells. Therefore, individuals who had never taken insulin before did not have any antibodies. On the other hand, the radiolabeled insulin consumed more rapidly.
Facts on File American History Online From Women Scientists, American Profiles. "Whether you like or not, women even in our modern-day society must exert more considerable effort towards achieving the same degrees of success than men." Roslyn Yalow knew what she was talking about when she wrote that words. She ventured out as a female from a low-income family; she had worked her way to the highest possible degree of excellence in science. She had done this with exceptional skills, intelligence, and through determination and dedication. After winning the Nobel Prize Yalow hoped that she and other prominent women scientist could pave the way for the next generation.
Yalow was passionate about justice, and equality rights for women, because she believed denying someone, an opportunity contributes to a terrible waste. The world cannot afford the loss of talents of half its people if we are to solve the various problems of the world in which beset us. The RIA test is susceptible that it can show small amounts such as a billionth of a gram. Usually, the test was used to measure various types of human substances such as blood, hormones, enzymes, and vitamins. Scientist used the RIA to comprehend the functions of the human body, including the causes of some diseases.
Later on, RIA can be utilized to find a lump of sugar in a lake 62 miles long and 30 feet deep. Within six years RIA was used by scientists and medical doctors. Also, information concerning the usage of this procedure came from various parts of the world, and in the year of 1966, Yalow became director of the RIA reference laboratory at the VA Hospital. In 1968 Solomon Berson became the chairman of the department of medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Yalow was appointed the acting chief of the radioisotope service at the VA Hospital. Four years later Berson died suddenly, and in honor of him, Yalow named her new laboratory at the VA Hospital the Solomon A. Berson Research Laboratory.
Although Berson was deceased, the Veteran's Administration continued to fund Yalow's research. The part of Yalow's and Berson's program was training the youths to become researchers whom she called "professional children." Gradually other researchers began to use the RIA technique in their work. On October 13, 1977, the researchers called at 7: A.M. while Yalow was at work in her office. She was in Stockholm, Sweden, and they had informed her that she had received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The Noble committee had reported to Yalow that her discovery of the RIA had begun to revolutionize the medical research.
The ability of the RIA to measure tiny amounts of substances has created a Hugh difference in medical research than any technique since the X-ray was an invention. After Yalow received the exciting news about her achievements, in the acceptance speech, she encouraged young women to become a scientist and use their skills to benefit humanity. We must believe in ourselves," she said, "or no one else will believe in us." Yalow was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, since Gerty Cory, was the sixth woman to succeed in any science category in the history of the Nobel awards.
Furthermore, in 1977, seven additional women have received Nobel Prizes in science, including another Hunter College graduate. Yalow died on May 31, 2011, at the age of 89. Yalow believed that with the equal opportunity a good education and the same encouragement to enter all fields of work, women would someday make significant contributions to the sciences. She looked forward to a time when all "those of us who wish can reach for the stars."