Nobel Prize Award for Physiology and Medicine 1976 to 1977

About the Nobel Prize Award for Physiology and Medicine from 1976 to 1977 including the scientists Blumberg and Yalow, their works, and history.


1976 Baruch S. Blumberg (1925- ), American

Work: Discovered the causative agent in hepatitis

D. Carleton Gajdusek (1923- ), American

Work: Discovered a virus peculiar to New Guinea cannibals

Nobel Laureates: In 1963 Dr. Blumberg singled out a protein in the blood of an Australian aborigine which seemed remarkably similar to the virus causing hepatitis. When it popped up again in patients suffering from hepatitis B, the most severe form of the disease, a new way to detect hepatitis had been found. The test has been particularly valuable in screening out potential bad blood donors. The number of hepatitis cases caused by tainted blood transfusions has been cut in half since the discovery. Blumberg has been an associate director of the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia since 1964.

While doing research in the South Pacific in the 1950s, Gajdusek came across the Fore cannibals of New Guinea. Endemic among the tribe was a fatal nervous disorder known as kuru, or the shivers. He isolated the virus causing the disease and discovered that it often was transmitted during native funeral rites, where custom called for the bereaved to snack on the brains of the deceased. Since the discovery, the Fore have been persuaded to serve more conventional hors d'oeuvres at their wakes, and the rate of kuru fatalities has dropped to near zero. Gajdusek is a virologist at the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke.

Nobel Lore: Gajdusek, a bachelor, at last count had adopted 16 South Pacific boys. He has set aside his half of the $160,000 Nobel Prize for their education.

1977 Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921- ), American

Andrew Vincent Schally (1926- ), American (b. Poland)

Roger C.L. Guillemin (1924- ), American (b. France)

Work: Developed and employed new techniques for treating the endocrine system and controlling the chemistry of human emotions and their derangement

Nobel Laureates: Dr. Yalow was born in the Bronx, N.Y. Hunter College's first female physics graduate, she decided to go into medical research. She has worked at the Bronx V.A. Hospital since 1950 and been the chief of nuclear medicine there since 1970. Her husband is also a physicist. Mrs. Yalow received half of the $145,000 prize.

Born in Wilmo, Poland, Dr. Schally fled the Nazis in 1939 and trained with British scientists during the war. After receiving his doctorate in Montreal, Canada, he worked at Baylor University in Houston with fellow laureate Roger Guillemin until 1962. Since then he has been a staff scientist at the V.A. Hospital in New Orleans and a faculty member at Tulane University.

Dr. Guillemin was born in Dijon, France. He fought with the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation forces. He left Montreal, Canada, in 1953 and settled in at Baylor University in Houston, where he worked for several years with Schally. Since 1970 Guillemin, a wine connoisseur, has worked at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Nobel Lore: Dr. Yalow was the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in medicine and the first in 30 years, since Gerty T. Cori, an American, shared the award with her husband in 1947. Only eight women, including Yalow, have been Nobel recipients.

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