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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Aug 18, 2022

Amazing and dedicated scientist Gerty Cori's accomplishments were overlooked because she was a woman. Unequal pay with men, and a condescending attitude in the male dominated profession did not deter her, however. She went on to great acclaim. Just press play to hear the whole story. ------

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Podcast Transcript: I’m Katie Moon, Exhibits Manager at the Missouri Historical Society, and Here’s History on eighty-eight-one, K-D-H-X. ———

Today, Gerty Cori is celebrated as the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. But one hundred years ago, she was just a brilliant, motivated scientist who had to push her way into a system that viewed women, at best, as second-class academics. ———

Gerty Cori and her husband Carl were born the same year in the same town, and received the same education, both earning medical degrees in 1920, which was also the year that they married. They worked in the same research lab in Prague, published papers together, equals in every way. They would continue to be committed to working together for the rest of their careers. However, in 1922, Carl was offered a professorship in Buffalo, New York. Gerty received no such offers. Instead, she eventually worked as a research assistant in Carl’s lab, earning just one-tenth of his pay. ———

In 1931, the Coris moved to St. Louis to work at Washington University, but Gerty was again forced to take a low-paying job as her husband’s assistant. Despite differences in public status, she and Carl always worked as equals. When Gerty gave birth to a son in 1936, she was out of the lab for just 3 days before returning to work. ———

After 20 years of conducting research in close partnership with her husband, Gerty finally began to receive some recognition for her own exceptional work, and was promoted to assistant professor. Shortly after, in 1947, the Coris received the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the Cori cycle—the process the body uses to break down glycogen or sugar for energy, an important step in figuring out how to manage and treat diabetes. ———

Gerty was only the 3rd woman, and first American woman, to receive the Nobel Prize in science—preceded only by Marie Curie and her daughter. ———

For the next 10 years, until her death in 1957, Gerty received numerous awards, and prominent scientists from all over the world flocked to St. Louis to work with her. The Cori’s lab at Washington University was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 2004. ———

Here’s History is a joint production of K-D-H-X and the Missouri Historical Society. I’m Katie Moon, and this is eighty-eight-one, K-D-H-X, St. Louis. ———