Gertrude B. Elion (1918-1999) was born in New York City on January 23, 1919. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988 along with co-recipient George Hitchings and Sir James Black. Gertrude patented the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercaptopurine in 1954. Her research led to the development of Imuran, a drug that aids the body in accepting transplanted organs, as well as Zovirax, a drug used to fight herpes. Dr. Gertrude Elion was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1991. Elion says the death of her beloved grandfather from cancer, when she was 15, is what motivated her to do something that might eventually lead to a cure. Gertrude continued to be an advocate for medical and scientific advancement until her death in February of 1999.
Source for additional information
Gertrude B. Elion Autobiography – http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1988/elion-autobio.html. Excerpt from Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1988.