Women of Valor



Gertrude Elion, 1918 - 1999

In 1970, needing more space and better facilities, Burroughs Wellcome moved from New York to Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Although Elion was sad to leave the area in which she had lived her entire life, she never considered not moving with the company. She returned regularly to New York to attend her beloved Metropolitan Opera, where she retained her season subscription, but she quickly grew to love North Carolina.

In 1983, after almost four decades at Burroughs Wellcome, Elion retired from active research. She remained "about as unretired as anyone can be," however, serving as Emerita Scientist and consultant to the company, sitting on committees and editorial boards for organizations from the World Health Organization to the National Cancer Advisory Board, lecturing across the United States and abroad, and serving as research professor at Duke University. Not wanting to stop learning, she continued to attend professional meetings.

Elion also traveled widely; an adventurous globetrotter throughout her life, she had already seen most of the world, and she extended almost every professional trip she took with personal travel. A few years before she died, a relative joked that she had been everywhere except Antarctica. The following year, Elion signed up for a cruise to Antarctica.

  1. Quote "about as unretired as anyone can be" from compilation of Gertrude Elion quotes, GlaxoSmithKline Inc. Heritage Center.
  2. Remaining information from Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993), 301; "The Legacy of Gertrude Elion: Inventor of Medicines," (video), ©1999, Bella International Productions; Katherine Bouton, "The Nobel Pair," New York Times Magazine, January 29, 1989: 87; conversation with Jonathan Elion, January 22, 2001.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Gertrude Elion - Retirement." (Viewed on April 16, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/elion/retirement>.