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Gertrude Elion, Drug Research Pioneer
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Gertrude Elion holding a chemical model

Gertrude Elion holding a chemical model

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Elion and George Hitchings in their chemistry lab in 1948
Elion and George Hitchings in their chemistry lab in 1948

Drug Research Pioneer

“Invention is the application of basic knowledge in innovative ways.”

Gertrude Elion, a pioneer in drug development, is one of the few women to have won a Nobel Prize.

Elion shared her 1988 Nobel Prize in medicine with George Hitchings, who hired her as a $50-a-week assistant in 1944.

“It’s a matter of really having some kind of imagination...the ability to see things that other people don’t see.”

Elion likened conducting experiments to playing with a puzzle. “She was incredibly curious,” says her nephew, John Elion. “For her, to find a drug that worked against the disease was not the endgame, it was understanding why.”

“I try to adopt the attitude that there is no such thing as failure,” Elion said.

“If something doesn’t work, it tells you that’s not the way it should be done. It changes your direction, but it doesn’t stop you.”

“It’s not finding the answer right away; it’s finding the path to get to the answer. And when you do, then the reward is very great.”

Next: The Work of Gertrude Elion ›

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