top of page

Series: Women who changed the world - Gerty Cori

"For a research worker, the unforgotten moments of his life are those rare ones which come after years of plodding work when the veil over natures secret seems suddenly to lift & when what was dark & chaotic appears in a clear & beautiful light & pattern." - Gerty Cori

Gerty Cori (Gerty Theresa Radnitz) was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in the year 1947, for her discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen. It was her uncle who promoted her curiosity in maths and science and motivated her to apply to medical school. She embarked on the journey to the Medical School of the German University of Prague and received the Doctorate in Medicine in 1920. She soon found her passion for biochemistry and her husband, Carl Cori. Together, they did research and published numerous research papers.

Even though she was not paid equally despite her accomplishments, her aim was to dedicate her professional inclination towards research. She never let her position disable her dedication to research, which was like a part of her to discover scientific findings which she did with her husband. It was only after receiving the Nobel Prize that she was upgraded to the professor rank. Till then, she worked as a research associate for sixteen years. Proceeding their research, Gerty and her husband made a huge sum of significant discoveries elucidating the process of carbohydrate metabolism: one such crucial finding, the Cori cycle, explains the movement of energy in the body—from muscle to the liver, and back to the muscle.

She was known for her extraordinary ideas and pursuing new direction in her research. Gerty Cori earned several awards and fellowships and her legacy lives on to enlighten us. In the year 1947, she was diagnosed with myelosclerosis, a rare form of bone-marrow cancer and succumbed to it in 1957. But her zeal for research never halted and she worked in the lab until the final months of her life. She believed science was her life and her work continues to motivate women today.

With thanks - this post was written by Vrinda Nair.

Photo credit -