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Jewesses with Attitude

Gertrude Elion inducted into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame

JWA Woman of Valor Gertrude Elion has been chosen as the 2011 honoree to be inducted into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame. Dr. Gertrude Elion joins nine women previously inducted into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame: Henrietta Szold (1976), Golda Meir (1978), Rebecca Gratz (1981), Emma Lazarus (1983), Ernestine Rose (1984), Barbra Streisand (1997), Ida Straus (1998), Bess Myerson (2001), and Lillian Wald (2007). Biographies of all the honorees can be found here.

Founded in 1969 at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, the Jewish-American Hall of Fame became a division of the American Jewish Historical Society in 2001. JAHF Director Mel Wacks recently announced that Gertrude Elion had been unanimously chosen as the 2011 honoree by the distinguished members of the Advisory Board consisting of Gail Reimer Ph.D., Director of the Jewish Women's Archive; Diana Altman, former Director of the Klutznick National Jewish Museum; Michael Feldberg Ph.D., former Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society; Dan Mariaschin, Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith International, and Richard A. Siegel, Director of the of the Hebrew Union College School of Jewish Nonprofit Management.

Elion received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988 “for discoveries of important principles for drug treatment,” together with Dr. Hitchings, her longtime research partner. Few Nobels have gone to scientists working in the drug industry or those without Ph.D.s, even fewer to women; Elion was only the fifth female Nobel laureate in Medicine, the ninth in science in general. In 1991 she was awarded the National Medal of Science and became the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Gertrude Elion's exceptional accomplishments over the course of her long career as a chemist include the development of the first chemotherapy for childhood leukemia, the immunosuppressant that made organ transplantation possible, the first effective anti-viral medication, and treatments for lupus, hepatitis, arthritis, gout, and other diseases. With her research partner, George Hitchings, she revolutionized the way drugs were developed, and her efforts have saved or improved the lives of countless individuals.

The modest Gertrude Elion once said: "It's amazing how much you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit."

Dr. Elion’s portrait plaque—created by Boston-area sculptor Daniel Alshuler--will be added to the permanent Jewish-American Hall of Fame exhibit at the Virginia Holocaust Museum (Richmond).

You can get your own limited edition art medal showing Elion receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine from Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden. Friends of the Jewish Women's Archive can obtain the 2-inch bronze medal for a contribution to the JAHF of just $25 (regular cost is $35), and the silver-plated bronze version is only $50 (regularly $85). Each medal comes with a matching tripod so it can be displayed.

ONE-THIRD OF THE PROCEEDS WILL BE CONTRIBUTED TO THE JEWISH WOMEN’S ARCHIVE and the balance will help the educational projects of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.

To order, call the Jewish-American Hall of Fame at 818-225-1348 or send payment by Paypal specifying the recipient as directorjahf[at]yahoo.com. Be sure to mention that you are a friend of the Jewish Women’s Archive to get the discount and to insure that one-third of the proceeds go to JWA.

Previously issued bronze medals honoring Ernestine Rose, Bess Myerson and Lillian Wald are also offered to friends of JWA for only $35 each (regularly $50)—and if you want a collection of all four bronze medals (including Gertrude Elion) with stands, you can order at a special price of only $110. That way you can create your own, miniature Jewish-American Women’s Hall of Fame in your home or office!

Learn more about the women of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame on jwa.org:

Gertrude Elion medal
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This limited edition art medal depicts Jewish-American Hall of Fame inductee Gertrude Elion receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine from Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden.

Lillian Wald medal
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This bronze medal honors Jewish-American Hall of Fame inductee, Lillian Wald. Bronze medals honoring Ernestine Rose and Bess Myserson are also available.

How to cite this page

Jewesses With Attitude. "Gertrude Elion inducted into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame." 30 January 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/gertrude-elion-inducted-into-jewish-american-hall-of-fame>.

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