Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori:
Nobel Prize in Physiology or
by Seymour "Sy" Brody
Dr. Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, in 1947, which she shared with her husband, Dr. Carl F. Cori, and Dr. B.A. Houssay of Argentina for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen.
Dr. Cori was born on August 15, 1896, in Prague, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She was the oldest of three daughters of Martha and Otto Radnitz, manager of a sugar refinery. The family was Jewish and she was educated by private tutors.
At age sixteen and influenced by her uncle, who was a professor of pediatrics at the University of Prague, Cori decided to study medicine. She graduated with a medical doctor's degree in 1920.
When she was attending medical school, she met Carl Ferdinand Cori, a fellow student. They both shared many common outdoor activities and they both had a curious interest in laboratory research. They were married on August 5, 1920, and accepted positions at the University of Vienna. They decided to pursue careers in medical research, rather than medical practice.
In 1922, they both emigrated to the United States to join the staff of Buffalo's New York Institute of Malignant Diseases. He became an assistant pathologist and she was appointed as an assistant biochemist. They both became United States citizens in 1928 and in 1936, they had their only child, Carl Thomas.
While at Buffalo, they concentrated on studying the absorption of sugars from the intestines and the effects of insulin epinephrine on the fate of absorbed carbohydrates and glycerin formation and degradation.
The Cori family accepted positions at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He was chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and she took a research position at a token salary. Gerty became a full professor in 1947. The same year she received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology with her husband and Dr. Houssay of Argentina. She was the third woman to receive this prestigious award and became the first Jewish-American woman to receive such an honor. In 1952 President Harry S. Truman named her to the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation.
Gerty Theresa Cori died in 1957.
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