Rosalyn Yalow is the second woman and the first American-born and -educated woman to win a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The award was made in 1977 for the discovery of radioimmunoassay (RIA), a technique that allows scientists to measure minute amounts of many different substances in the blood by tagging them with radioactive tracers. RIA's ability to measure tiny amounts of substances has made more difference in medical research than any technique since the X-ray. This method is used in thousands of laboratories around the world to measure hundreds of substances of biologic interest in blood and other body fluids. Today, RIA is used to measure hormones, vitamins, enzymes, toxins and other substances that prior to this invention were too small for physicians to detect.
Ms. Yalow is the recipient of 54 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States and abroad. About the paucity of women in science, she says, "The world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems which beset us."