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November 11, 1988

Pharmacology Researchers Receive 1988 Nobel Prize

JAMA. 1988;260(18):2625. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410180021005

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DRUG RESEARCH clearly has the attention of the Nobel Prize committee. This year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine goes to three pioneering pharmacology researchers: George Hitchings, MD, and Gertrude Elion, DSc, Burroughs Wellcome Co, Research Triangle Park, NC, and Sir James Black, King's College Hospital Medical School, London.

The committee noted: "While drug development had earlier mainly been built on chemical modification of natural products, they introduced a more rational approach based on the understanding of basic biochemical and physiological processes."

From the prizewinners' work have come a whole string of drugs useful for treating leukemia, manipulating the immune response, controlling herpes infections, and managing gout, hypertension, heart disease, and gastric ulcers.

Hitchings, a biochemist, arrived at Burroughs Wellcome in 1942 when the company was in Tuckahoe, NY. "When I started," he recalls, "it was to study antimetabolites of nucleic acid biosynthesis using analogues of the bases purine and