In April the U.S. Postal Service will release a new series of stamps honoring 20th Century American scientists. One of the first four stamps to be released depicts Gerty Cori. In 1947 she became the first woman in America to receive the Nobel Prize (along with her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay) for discovering how glycogen (a form of stored energy in animals) is broken down into sugar, then turned back into glycogen.
It took years for Cori to be acknowledged for her research:
The Coris decided to leave Roswell soon after publishing their work on carbohydrate metabolism, mainly because Roswell's primary focus was cancer research. But though they had developed the Cori cycle together, Carl Cori was the one to receive job offers at universities. Although faculty at the University of Rochester warned Gerty Cori that she might ruin her husband's career, the couple refused to stop working together. Both Cornell University and the University of Toronto refused to hire Gerty Cori even while they tried to persuade her husband to take up an appointment, so the couple moved to St. Louis in 1931, where Carl had been offered the chair of the pharmacology department at Washington University School of Medicine. Gerty Cori was offered a position as a research assistant, despite her partnership role in the discovery of the Cori cycle.It was only after Carl Cori was made chair of the department, 16 years after their arrival, that Gerty Cori was promoted from research assistant to full professor. The following year they won the Nobel prize. It's yet another example of an accomplished female scientist who was only given a research position because a close relative (in this case her husband) fought for it.
This is the second set of stamps honoring US Scientists to be released. The first set included geneticist Barbara McClintock.
(via Wired Science)
Tags: stamps, Gerty Cori, biochemistry, women in science