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In two weeks it'll be 71 years since Mayo Clinic received the telegram announcing two of their doctors were winners of the 1950 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology.

Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic

What was all the hubbub about? You wouldn't know it by the telegram, but Mayo Clinic doctors, right here in Rochester Minnesota, spent over a decade researching a miracle drug that had become a reality...cortisone.

It's 2021 and you're always hearing about people getting cortisone shots to treat rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, bursitis. They can also be part of treatment for other conditions, like back pain, and tendinitis.

Such an everyday thing now, but 71 years ago, people with such horrible, unbearable pain would dream of such a medicine.

Edward Kendall, Ph.D., third from right, and Phillip Hench, M.D., far right, shared the Nobel Prize for discovering cortisone. Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic

According to Mayo Clinic, after years of collaborative research, a Mayo Clinic team was the first to isolate cortisone, a hormone from the adrenal glands (small triangular glands on top of each kidney). In 1948 they gave it to a patient, the first cortisone treatment ever, and two years later, won the Nobel Prize.

The team was headed by two Mayo Clinic staffers, rheumatologist Dr. Philip S. Hench and biochemist Dr. Edward C. Kendall. They were joined by a Polish-Swiss chemist, Professor Tadeus Reichstein of the University of Basel.

The Mayo Clinic in 1950 (MNHS)

Dr.Hench shared his portion of the Nobel Prize money with the people who worked on the project. One vital part of the team, though, did not receive any cash. Because of her vow of poverty, Sister Pantaleon Navratil, the project's nursing supervisor, had to say no to such a reward. So, he established a travel fund so she could have an audience with the Pope.

Mayo Clinic in 1955, just five years after the Nobel Prize was awarded...the world keeps moving...(MNHS)

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