The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1950
Born: 20 July 1897, Wloclawek, Poland
Died: 1 August 1996, Basel, Switzerland
Affiliation at the time of the award: Basel University, Basel, Switzerland
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects."
Prize share: 1/3
Situated atop the kidneys are two small glands, the adrenal glands. Their function was unknown for a long time, but if they were injured, deficiency diseases ensued that ended in death. In the mid-1930s Edward Kendall and Tadeus Reichstein succeeded in isolating and analyzing the composition of a number of similar hormones derived from the adrenal cortex. These became the basis for cortisone preparations that, with input from Kendall and Philip Hench, were used at the end of the 1940s to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammations.
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.