On this day (August 15), 1896, Gerty Radnitz, doctor of medicine and professor of biochemistry, was born.
While studying, she met Carl Cori , who was immediately attracted to her charm, vitality, sense of humor and his love of the outdoors and mountain climbing. Gerty and Carl had entered medical school at eighteen and graduated in 1920. They were married that same year.
In 1922, the Coris emigrated to the United States to conduct medical research at the State Institute for the Study of Diseases Malignant (now the Roswell Park Cancer Institute ) in Buffalo, New York .
Although the Coris were discouraged from working together at Roswell, they continued to do so, specializing in investigating carbohydrate metabolism. They were particularly interested in how glucose is metabolized in the human body and the hormones that regulate this process.
They published fifty articles while at Roswell, and first author status went to the one who had done the most research for a given article. Gerty Cori published eleven articles as sole author.
In 1929, they proposed the theoretical cycle that later earned them the Nobel Prize, the Cori cycle . The cycle describes how the human body uses chemical reactions to break down some carbohydrates like glycogen in muscle tissue into lactic acid, while synthesizing others .
In 1931, they moved to St. Louis, Missouri , since the University of Washington offered positions for Carl and Gerty, even though Gerty's rank and salary were much lower than those of her husband. Despite her research experience, Gerty was only offered a position as a research associate at a salary one tenth of what her husband received; she was warned that she could damage her husband's career. The president of the University of Washington, Arthur Compton , made a special concession for Gerty to take a position there, going against the nepotism rules of University.
Gerty had to wait thirteen years before reaching the same rank as her husband. In 1943, she was appointed Research Associate Professor in Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology. Months before winning the Nobel Prize, she was promoted to full professor, a position she held until her death in 1957.
While working at the University of Washington, they discovered an intermediate compound in frog muscles that enabled the breakdown of glycogen, called glucose 1-phosphate
, now also known as Cori ester .
Out of curiosity, her work continued to clarify the mechanisms of carbohydrate metabolism, improving the understanding of the reversible conversion of sugars and starch, findings that were crucial in the development of diabetic treatments.
- Dad, can you help me?
- sure, daughter
- do you know who Doctor Cori is?
- well no
-So you don't know why she won a Nobel?
- even less so
- well help
- You take me out of chemistry, I don't know much
- This doctor was a biochemist
- oh... wow...
- and raised the Cori cycle
- very good...
- you don't know, do you?
- no daughter, no...
- well help
- and now leave me alone
- to cry alone my little knowledge
- no big deal daddy