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Rosalyn S. Yalow, PhD: A Personal and Scientific Memoir

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S Goldsmith

S Goldsmith1*, (1) New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY

MO-G-BRB-2 Monday 5:15:00 PM - 6:00:00 PM Room: Ballroom B

In 1950, Rosalyn S. Yalow, PhD, a medical physicist, was hired to develop The Radioisotope Service at the Bronx VA. She was joined by Sol Berson who had completed his residency in internal medicine. Their initial investigations together were in the application of radionuclides in blood volume determination and the kinetics of iodine metabolism in health and thyroid disease. They were quickly recognized as outstanding clinical investigators. They turned their attention to understanding insulin physiology by labeling insulin and studying the plasma kinetics in a variety of subjects. Radiolabeled insulin was cleared from the blood more slowly in subjects who had received insulin injections. They concluded that the slower clearance was due to insulin antibodies and they quantified the binding phenomenon. They recognized that the quantitative competition of a radiolabeled antigen and an unlabeled antigen molecule for a limited number of binding sites on an antibody provided a basis for the quantitation of an unknown amount of a similar molecule in a sample of plasma or other biological fluid. In 1960, a manuscript entitled “Immunoassay of Endogenous Plasma Insulin in Man” appeared. Using the same principal but identifying unique characteristics of other peptide hormones, the Yalow-Berson team went on to develop assays for Human Growth Hormone, ACTH, Parathyroid Hormone, Gastrin, Glucagon and other materials of biologic interest. Radioimmunoassay could quantify these substances in less than a drop of plasma

In recognition of these contributions, the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded in 1977 to Rosalyn S. Yalow, PhD.

It is not possible in the limited space and time available to review the impact that the development of radioimmunoassay has had on virtually every field of medical science but the reader is encouraged to review some of the early publications on this subject and to share the excitement and awe that they created at the time of publication and continue to do so for this observer whenever there is an opportunity to review this material.

This lecture will provide an overview of the life and principal scientific contributions of a Medical Physicist, Rosalyn S. Yalow, PhD who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1977 in recognition of the development of radioimmunoassay.
Learning Objectives:
1. Knowledge of key events in the scientific development of Rosalyn S. Yalow, MD.
2. Understand the principles of radioimmunoassay.
3. Understand the impact of radioimmunoassay methodology on medical science.


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