Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Gerty Theresa Cori, née Radnitz
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1947
Born: 15 August 1896, Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic) (now Czechoslovakia)
Died: 26 October 1957, St. Louis, MO, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen."
Prize share: 1/4
Gerty Radnitz was born in Prague in what was then Austria-Hungary. She received her PhD in medicine from the German University of Prague's Medical School in 1920 and married classmate Carl Cori later that same year. The couple moved to Buffalo, New York in the United States in 1922 and began researching the metabolic mechanisms. As a woman, Gerty Cori was employed on much less favorable terms than her husband. The couple moved to Washington University in St. Louis in 1931 after both were offered positions there. Gerty Cori first became a professor of biochemistry in 1947, the same year she was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Gerty and Carl Cori took an interest in how the body utilizes energy. In 1929, they described what is known as the Cori cycle; an important part of metabolism. Lactic acid forms when we use our muscles, which is then converted into glycogen in the liver. Glycogen, in turn, is converted into glucose, which is absorbed by muscle cells. The pair continued to investigate how glycogen is broken down into glucose and, in 1938-1939, were able to both identify the enzyme that initiates the decomposition and also to use the process to create glycogen in a test tube.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.