"I had no specific bent toward science until my grandfather died of stomach cancer. I decided that nobody should suffer that much."
Young Gertrude Elion's ambition to find new medicines led her to the study of chemistry, but when she graduated from college, she found it almost impossible to find a job in the field. Most employers at that time would not hire a woman to perform scientific work. Gertrude Elion refused to be deterred. She worked wherever she could, often for little or no money, until at last she found a stable position at Burroughs Wellcome, where she was allowed to fulfill her potential as a scientist.
In time, her discoveries were to win her the Nobel Prize for medicine, although she was not a medical doctor and had never received a doctorate in her own field. Drugs she developed or discovered have been successful in treating leukemia and have enabled kidney patients to receive transplants from unrelated donors. She led the team that developed acyclovir, the first successful anti-viral medication. Over a million men and women around the world owe their lives to Gertrude Elion's patient determination.