Gerty Cori


Gerty Theresa Cori née Radnitz; August 15, 1896 – October 26, 1957 was a Czech-American biochemist who became the third woman—and first American woman—to win a Nobel Prize in science, and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Cori was born in Prague then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now the Czech Republic Gerty was not a nickname, but rather she was named after an Austrian warship2 Growing up at a time when women were marginalized in science and allowed few educational opportunities, she gained admittance to medical school, where she met her future husband Carl Ferdinand Cori; upon their graduation in 1920, they married Because of deteriorating conditions in Europe, the couple emigrated to the United States in 1922 Gerty Cori continued her early interest in medical research, collaborating in the laboratory with Carl She published research findings coauthored with her husband, as well as publishing singly Unlike her husband, she had difficulty securing research positions, and the ones she obtained provided meager pay Her husband insisted on continuing their collaboration, though he was discouraged from doing so by the institutions that employed him

With her husband Carl and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay, Gerty Cori received the Nobel Prize in 1947 for the discovery of the mechanism by which glycogen—a derivative of glucose—is broken down in muscle tissue into lactic acid and then resynthesized in the body and stored as a source of energy known as the Cori cycle They also identified the important catalyzing compound, the Cori ester In 2004, both Gerty and Carl Cori were designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in recognition of their work in clarifying carbohydrate metabolism3

In 1957, Gerty Cori died after a ten-year struggle with myelosclerosis She remained active in the research laboratory until the end She received recognition for her achievements through multiple awards and honors The Cori crater on the Moon and the Cori crater on Venus are named after her

Contents

  • 1 Life and work
  • 2 Awards and recognitions
  • 3 Final years
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links

Life and workedit

Gerty Theresa Radnitz was born into a Jewish family in Prague in 1896 Her father, Otto Radnitz, was a chemist who became manager of sugar refineries after inventing a successful method for refining sugar Her mother, Martha, a friend of Franz Kafka, was a culturally sophisticated woman3 Gerty was tutored at home before enrolling in a Lyceum for girls, and at the age of 16 she decided she wanted to be a medical doctor Pursuing the study of science, Gerty learned that she lacked the prerequisites in Latin, physics, chemistry, and mathematics Over the course of a year, she managed to study the equivalent of eight years of Latin, five years of science, and five years of math2

Her uncle, a professor of pediatrics, encouraged her to attend medical school, so she studied for and passed the University entrance examination She was admitted to the medical school of the Karl-Ferdinands-Universität in Prague in 1914, which was unusual for a woman to achieve at that time While studying she met Carl Cori who was immediately attracted to her charm, vitality, sense of humor and her love of the outdoors and mountain climbing4 Gerty and Carl had both entered medical school at eighteen and both graduated in 1920 They married that same year2 Gerty converted to Catholicism, enabling her and Carl to marry in the Roman Catholic Church56 They moved to Vienna, Austria, where Gerty spent the next two years at the Carolinen Children's Hospital, and her husband worked in a laboratory4 While at the hospital, Gerty Cori worked on the pediatrics unit and conducted experiments in temperature regulation, comparing temperatures before and after thyroid treatment, and published papers on blood disorders3

Carl served in the Austrian army during World War I after being drafted2 Life was difficult following World War I, and Gerty suffered from xerophthalmia caused by severe malnutrition due to food shortages These problems, in conjunction with the increasing anti-Semitism, contributed to the Coris' decision to leave Europe7

In 1922, the Coris both immigrated to the United States Gerty six months after Carl because of difficulty in obtaining a position there to pursue medical research at the "State Institute for the Study of Malignant Diseases" now the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York In 1928, they became naturalized citizens of the United States89 The director for the Institute threatened to dismiss Gerty if she did not cease collaborative research with her husband She continued to work with Carl and was also kept on at the Institute2

She was constantly in the laboratory, where we two worked alone We washed our own laboratory glassware and she would occasionally complain bitterly to Carl about not having any dishwashing help When she tired, she would retire to her small office adjoining the laboratory, where she would rest on a small cot She smoked incessantly and dropped cigarette ashes constantly

Joseph Larner4

Although the Coris were discouraged from working together at Roswell, they continued to do so, specializing in investigating carbohydrate metabolism They were particularly interested in how glucose is metabolized in the human body and the hormones that regulate this process4 They published fifty papers while at Roswell, with first author status going to the one who had done most of the research for a given paper Gerty Cori published eleven articles as the sole author In 1929, they proposed the theoretical cycle that later won them the Nobel Prize, the Cori cycle8 The cycle describes how the human body uses chemical reactions to break some carbohydrates such as glycogen in muscle tissue into lactic acid, while synthesizing others7

The Coris left Roswell in 1931 after publishing their work on carbohydrate metabolism A number of universities offered Carl a position but refused to hire Gerty Gerty was informed during one university interview that it was considered "unamerican" for a married couple to work together3 Carl refused a position at the University of Buffalo because the school would not allow him to work with his wife2

In 1931, they moved to St Louis, Missouri, as Washington University offered both Carl and Gerty positions, although Gerty's rank and salary were much lower than her husband's2 Despite her research background, Gerty was only offered a position as a research associate at a salary one tenth of that received by her husband;10 she was warned that she might harm her husband's career8 Washington University's Chancellor, Arthur Holley Compton made a special allowance for Gerty to hold a position there, going against the university's nepotism rules Gerty had to wait thirteen years before she attained the same rank as her husband2 In 1943, she was made an associate professor of Research Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology Months before she won the Nobel Prize, she was promoted to full professor, a post she held until her death in 195711

They continued their collaboration at Washington University While working with minced frog muscle, they discovered an intermediate compound that enabled the breakdown of glycogen, called glucose 1-phosphate, now known as the Cori ester7 They established the compound's structure, identified the enzyme phosphorylase that catalyzed its chemical formation, and showed that the Cori ester is the beginning step in the conversion of the carbohydrate glycogen into glucose large amounts of which are found in the liver3 It can also be the last step in the conversion of blood glucose to glycogen, as it is a reversible step12 Gerty Cori also studied glycogen storage disease, identifying at least four forms, each related to a particular enzymatic defect13 She was the first to show that a defect in an enzyme can be the cause of a human genetic disease14

Gerty and Carl Cori collaborated on most of their work, including that which won them the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen" They received one half the prize, the other half going to the Argentinian physiologist, Bernardo Houssay "for his discovery of the part played by the hormone of the anterior pituitary lobe in the metabolism of sugar"15 Their work continued to clarify the mechanisms of carbohydrate metabolism, advancing understanding of the reversible conversion of sugars and starch, findings which proved crucial in the development of treatments for diabetics3

Awards and recognitionsedit

Despite rampant gender discrimination and nepotism rules, she never stopped pursuing her lifelong interest in medical research Brilliant and quick-witted, Cori was a superb experimentalist as well as a perfectionist16

In 1947 Gerty Cori became the third woman—and the first American woman—to win a Nobel Prize in science, the previous recipients being Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie She was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine17 She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 195318

The twenty-five square foot Cori laboratory at Washington University was deemed a National Historic Landmark by the American Chemical Society Not only did the Coris conduct groundbreaking research there, but they mentored many scientists Six of these went on to win Nobel Prizes, which is unmatched in scientific history2

The crater Cori on the Moon is named after her19 So is the Cori crater on Venus20 She also shares a star with Carl on the St Louis Walk of Fame21

Correct formula for glucose-1-phosphate shown incorrectly on the US postage stamp

Gerty and Carl Cori were late members of the American Society of Biological Chemists, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Chemical Society and the American Philosophical Society They were presented jointly with the Midwest Award American Chemical Society in 1946 and the Squibb Award in Endocrinology in 1947 In addition, Gerty Cori received the Garvan Medal 1948, the St Louis Award 1948, the Sugar Research Prize 1950, the Borden Award 1951 and honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Boston University 1948, Smith College 1949, Yale 1951, Columbia 1954, and Rochester 1955 Carl Cori, a Member of the Royal Society London and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also received the Willard Gibbs Medal 1948, the Sugar Research Foundation Award 1947, 1950 and honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Western Reserve University 1946, Yale 1946, Boston 1948, and Cambridge 1949 He was President of Fourth International Congress of Biochemistry Vienna, 1958

Cori was honored by the release of a US Postal Service stamp in April, 200822 The 41-cent stamp was reported by the Associated Press to have a printing error in the chemical formula for glucose-1-phosphate Cori ester The stamp is being distributed despite the error23 Her description reads: "Biochemist Gerty Cori 1896–1957, in collaboration with her husband, Carl, made important discoveries—including a new derivative of glucose—that elucidated the steps of carbohydrate metabolism and contributed to the understanding and treatment of diabetes and other metabolic diseases In 1947, the couple was award a half share of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine"24 The other scientists on the "American Scientists" sheet include Linus Pauling, chemist, Edwin Hubble, astronomer, and John Bardeen, physicist

In 1948, Cori was awarded the Garvan-Olin Medal, an award that recognizes distinguished work in chemistry by American women chemists25 She was appointed by President Harry S Truman as board member of the National Science Foundation, a position she held until her death11 She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the fourth woman so honored26

In 1949 she was awarded the Iota Sigma Pi National Honorary Member for her significant contribution27

In 2004 the research of Gerti and Carl Cori on carbohydrate metabolism was recognized by the American Chemical Society as a National Historic Chemical Landmark at the Washington University School of Medicine3

The US Department of Energy named the NERSC-8 supercomputer installed in 2015/2016 after Cori28

Although prejudiced against in her time for being a woman, today Gerty is the more celebrated of the Coris, as she considered a pioneer as a woman of science 2

Final yearsedit

Just before winning the Nobel prize and while they were on a mountain climbing trip, the Coris learned that Gerty Cori was ill with myelosclerosis, a fatal disease of the bone marrow3 During her years at the Institute for the Study of Malignant Disease, Gerty had studied the effects of X-rays on the human body, which was thought to contribute to her illness2 She struggled for ten years with the illness while continuing her scientific work; only in the final months did she let up In 1957, she died in her home3 Gerty was cremated and her ashes scattered Later, her son erected a cenotaph for Gerty and Carl Cori in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St Louis, Missouri

She was survived by her husband and their only child, Tom Cori who married the daughter of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly72930

Carl remarried in 1960 to Anne Fitzgerald-Jones The two later moved to Boston, where Carl taught at Harvard Medical School He continued to work there until his death at the age of eighty-eight2

See alsoedit

  • List of female Nobel laureates
  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates

Referencesedit

  1. ^ "Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori 1896-1957 and Carl Ferdinand Cori 1896-1984 1947" Smithsonian Institution Archives Smithsonian Institution Retrieved 23 July 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Shepley, Carol Ferring 2008 Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and Suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery St Louis, MO: Missouri History Museum 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Carl and Gerti Cori and Carbohydrate Metabolism" American Chemical Society Retrieved June 6, 2012 
  4. ^ a b c d Larner, Joseph 1992 "Gerty Theresa Cori" PDF National Academy of Sciences pp 113, 124, 125 Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  5. ^ http://wwwcsupomonaedu/~nova/scientists/articles/corihtml
  6. ^ https://wwwjewishvirtuallibraryorg/jsource/biography/corihtml
  7. ^ a b c d Chemical Heritage Foundation "Flying, Hopping and Rolling" hemheritageorg Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  8. ^ a b c National Library of Medicine "Dr Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori" nihgov Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  9. ^ "Nobel Lectures – Physiology or Medicine 1942–1962" Elsevier Publishing Company 1964 Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  10. ^ Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri "Gerty Theresa Cori 1896–1957" Bernard Becker Medical Library Retrieved 17 June 2010  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  11. ^ a b Washington University School of Medicine "Gerty Theresa Cori 1896-1957" Bernard Becker Medical Library Retrieved 24 June 2010 
  12. ^ "Carl Ferdinand & Gerty Theresa Cori" nobel-winnerscom Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  13. ^ Rothenberg, Marc 2000 The history of science in the United States : an encyclopedia Online-Ausg ed New York: Garland ISBN 0815307624 
  14. ^ Smeltzer, Ronald K 2013 Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement The Grolier Club 
  15. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1947" Nobelprizeorg Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  16. ^ Washington University School of Medicine "Gerty Theresa Cori" Bernard Becker Medical Library Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  17. ^ "Facts on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine" Nobelprizeorg Retrieved 22 June 2010 
  18. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter C" PDF American Academy of Arts and Sciences Retrieved July 29, 2014 
  19. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature" usgsgov Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  20. ^ "Cori House - Cori Crater - Extraterrestrial Locations on Waymarkingcom" Waymarkingcom Retrieved 7 February 2014 
  21. ^ St Louis Walk of Fame "St Louis Walk of Fame Inductees" stlouiswalkoffameorg Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  22. ^ Keim, Brandon January 10, 2008 "US Postal Service Gets Scientific With New Stamps" wiredcom Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  23. ^ Associated Press January 15, 2008 "Stamp Honoring Biochemist Bears Error" Fox News Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  24. ^ United States Postal Service March 6, 2008 "Four Legends of American Science Now on US Postage Stamps" uspscom Archived from the original on March 6, 2010 Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  25. ^ "Francis P Garvan-John M Olin Medal" American Chemistry Society Archived from the original on 24 February 2012 Retrieved 17 June 2010 
  26. ^ Gardner, A L 1997 "Gerty Cori, Biochemist, 1896-1957" PDF Women Life Scientists: Past, Present, and Future – Connecting Role Models to the Classroom Curriculum American Physiological Society Retrieved 24 June 2010 
  27. ^ "PROFESSIONAL AWARDS" Iota Stigma Pi: National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry Retrieved 16 December 2014 
  28. ^ "NERSC-8 supercomputer" 
  29. ^ "Nobels All Around" Retrieved 2012-09-23 
  30. ^ "Anne Cori" Retrieved 2012-09-23 

Further readingedit

Library resources about
Gerty Cori
  • Leroy, Francis 2003 A century of Nobel Prizes recipients: chemistry, physics, and medicine CRC Press ISBN 0-8247-0876-8 
  • McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch 2001 Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries National Academy Press ISBN 0-309-07270-0 
  • Opfell, Olga S 1978 The Lady Laureates : Women Who Have Won the Nobel Prize Metuchen, NJ & London: Scarecrow Press, Inc pp 183–193 ISBN 0810811618 

External linksedit

  • Carl and Gerti Cori and Carbohydrate Metabolism from American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks
  • “Glories of the Human Mind” by Gerty Cori
  • Bernardo A Houssay Memorial to Gerty Theresa Cori
  • Gerty Cori Memorabilia
  • Nobel lecture by Carl Cori and Gerty Cori
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir


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