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Gertrude Elion
Gertrude Elion invented the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercaptopurine and drugs that facilitated kidney transplants.
 
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Gertrude Elion 
Gertrude Elion
Gertrude Elion invented the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercaptopurine and drugs that facilitated kidney transplants.
Gertrude Elion
Gertrude Elion invented drugs for the treatment of cancer and leukemia.
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Medical Innovations
Women Inventors
~ Mary Bellis

Gertrude Elion patented the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercaptopurine in 1954 and has made a number of significant contributions to the medical field. Dr. Gertrude Elion’s research led to the development of Imuran, a drug that aids the body in accepting transplanted organs, and Zovirax, a drug used to fight herpes. 

Including 6-mercaptopurine, Getrude Elion’s name is attached to some 45 patents. In 1988, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine with George Hitchings and Sir James Black. Dr. Gertrude Elion was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1991, she continued to be an advocate for medical and scientific advancement until her death in February of 1999.

The child of Lithuanian and Polish immigrants, Gertrude Elion decided to become involved in cancer research after losing her grandfather to cancer when she was 15 years old. At age 19, she graduated with the highest undergraduate honors in chemistry from Hunter College. However, 15 institutes rejected her application for graduate school because of the unfair discrimination towards women in the sciences that existed at that time. Elion was forced to work as an unpaid lab assistant in order to have the opportunity to further her research in science.

In 1944, Burroughs Wellcome, a pharmaceuticals company, hired Gertrude Elion to work with nucleic acids. During her 39-year career there, Gertrude Elion made most of her scientific advances, including the development of 6-mercaplopurine used in chemotherapy to treat children with leukemia that won her the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Gertrude Elion Healing the world through science - read about Dr. Gertrude Elion. 

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