Gerty Cori 

Gerty Cori (1896 – 1957) was an Austrian-American biochemist and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for her groundbreaking discoveries of carbohydrate metabolism. Her research on how the body metabolizes glycogen from carbohydrates sparked an evolution in the understanding of how the body stores and uses energy. She also developed innovative theories about how the body stores, breaks down, and uses carbohydrates. This helped to establish the field of bioenergetics and has made a staggering impact on the understanding of diabetic and metabolic diseases.

Early Life and Education 

Gerty Radnitz was born in Prague, Czech Republic, to Hermann and Martha Radnitz. From an early age, her parents’ encouragement to expand her education and develop her skills motivated Gerty to pursue a career in biochemistry. She began her higher education at the German University of Prague in 1914, where she focused on biology and chemistry. From there, she attended the same university one year later, this time focusing on the study of medicine. After the end of the Great War, she was able to complete her studies. At the same university, in 1920, she received a doctorate of medicine for her research in carbohydrate metabolism.

Career in the United States 

In 1922, Gerty and her husband, the biochemist Eugene Cori, went to the United States to teach at the State University of New York in Buffalo. There, she wrote a textbook on carbohydrate metabolism that was adopted by the medical school and became a staple in biochemistry curricula. During their time in New York, they gained a substantial amount of recognition from the scientific and medical communities. This recognition paved the way for them to pursue their research and become leading authorities on carbohydrate metabolism.

Work on Glycogen Metabolism 

In 1931, Gerty and Eugene moved to the Washington University in St. Louis with the aim of starting their own research. For seven years, the couple worked on their studies on glycogen. Their research focused on the role of glycogen in the human body and how it is broken down and metabolized. They were eventually able to unravel the intricate details of the metabolic process and develop an entirely new understanding of how the body uses carbohydrates as energy.

Begin Breakthrough Research 

Their breakthrough in glycogen metabolism was the Cori-Cycle: a unified cycle of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis where intermediate steps are common between them. The discovery of the Cori-Cycle immediately revolutionized biochemistry and established Gerty and Eugene as leading experts in the field. With their deep understanding of the metabolic cycle, they were able to develop innovative theories that revolutionized the understanding of glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, and metabolic diseases.

Making the History Books 

For their remarkable achievements, Gerty and Eugene were the first husband-and-wife team to ever both receive a Nobel Prize. Gerty was the first female to be awarded with the prestigious Nobel Prize for her groundbreaking research in biochemistry. Over the course of her career, she accumulated a wealth of honors and awards for her work in glycolysis and carbohydrate metabolism. With her success, Gerty Cori forever changed the face of biochemistry and carbohydrate metabolism, and in the process, opened new avenues of exploration in the field.

Gerty Cori is an iconic figure in the field of biochemistry and her research opened up a new world of possibilities for understanding glycolysis and carbohydrate metabolism. In doing so, she changed the face of biochemistry and established herself as one of the most eminent scientists of the century. The legacy she left behind, in terms of her research and inventions, will continue to shape biochemistry, glycolysis, and metabolic diseases.