Solomon Berson

Solomon Berson

Solomon Aaron Berson (22 April 1918 – 11 April 1972) was an American physician and scientist whose discoveries, mostly together with Rosalyn Yalow, caused major advances in clinical biochemistry.Rall JE. "Solomon A. Berson". In "Biographical Memoirs". National Academy of Sciences 1990;59:54-71. ISBN 0-309-04198-8. [http://www.nap.edu/books/0309041988/html/54.html Fulltext] .]

Born in New York City, Berson was a keen musician and chess player. He obtained his college degree in 1938 and – after failing to obtain a place in medical school – an MSc (1939) and an anatomy instructorship at New York University before finally securing a place in NYU medical school in 1941. He completed his degree in 1945, and after internships in Boston and two years in the army he returned to New York to do an internal medicine residency at the Bronx Veterans Affairs Hospital.

His scientific work started in 1950, when he became member of the Radioisotope Service of the hospital, supporting Rosalyn Yalow in her research. He also set up a thyroid service, where his approach was felt lastingly. Their early laboratory work concerned iodine and human serum albumin metabolism, but later on in the decade they shifted their focus to insulin, a hormone which was difficult to measure in the blood. They developed the radioimmunoassay, which gave very good results, and published their findings in 1960. [Yalow RS, Berson SA. Immunoassay of endogenous plasma insulin in man. "J Clin Invest" 1960;39:1157-75. PMID 13846364.]

With the success of the insulin RIA, Yalow and Berson extended their success to other hormones, such as corticotropin, gastrin, parathyroid hormone and growth hormone, making significant discoveries in their physiology along the way. [Straus E. Gastrointestinal hormones. "Mt Sinai J Med" 2000;67:54-7. PMID 10679142.]

Berson, usually together with Yalow, received numerous awards for his work. In 1968, he was elected Murray M. Rosenberg Professor and Chair of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York, enjoying great popularity. He also served on the editorial boards of several medical journals. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1972, but died the same month in Atlantic City while attending a FASEB meeting. In 1975 Berson and Yalow received the AMA Scientific Achievement Award (Berson posthumously), and two years later Yalow received a Nobel Prize for their joint work on the radioimmunoassay.

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