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Jessie Marmorston

Jessie Marmorston’s research into hormone secretion led to breakthroughs in our understanding of the ways stress can contribute to heart attacks and certain cancers. Marmorston earned her medical degree from the University of Buffalo in 1924 and began an internship at Montefiore Hospital in New York City. There she met her future husband and collaborator, David Perla, with whom she co-wrote The Spleen and Its Relation to Resistance in 1926. The couple married in 1933 and had three daughters, but Perla’s death in 1940 pushed Marmorston to take a faculty position at the University of Southern California Medical School. In 1957 she became their professor of experimental medicine, researching a stunning range of medical disciplines including immunology, endocrinology, psychoanalysis, and cardiology. From 1952–1959 she studied the relationship between hormone secretion and heart attacks in women, discovering that giving small amounts of estrogen to post–menopausal women could reduce their risk of heart attacks. She went on to study the relationship between the hormone secretion caused by emotional stress and incidents of certain types of cancer. For more than thirty years, she not only taught and conducted research, but practiced medicine at two Los Angeles hospitals.

More on Jessie Marmorston
Date of Birth
September 16, 1903
Place of Birth
Date of Death
October 21, 1980

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jessie Marmorston." (Viewed on December 9, 2018) <>.


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