Health

These women saved millions of lives

By Susie East and Esra Gurkan, for CNN

Published 5:53 AM ET, Thu February 11, 2016
Share
Florance NightingaleFlorance Nightingale
1 of 21
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was an English nurse who became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit for her efforts during the Crimean War. As a nurse, she spent her night rounds giving personal care to the wounded and became known as the 'Lady with the Lamp'. Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) was the first woman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in England. In 1872, she founded the New Hospital for Women in London where women from all over the city could be treated for gynecological conditions. She also co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women, where she lectured, paving the way for medical education for women. Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Marie Curie (1867-1934) was a Polish chemist and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is the only woman to win the award twice, and one of only four individuals to win it in two different categories (physics and chemistry). Along with her husband, Pierre Curie, she discovered polonium and radium which were crucial in the development of X-rays. Curie helped equip ambulances with X-rays during World War I and became head of radiological service for the International Red Cross. Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett
Alice Catherine Evans (1881-1975) was a U.S. microbiologist who became the first female scientist to be permanently hired by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Her work involved investigating bacteriology in milk and cheese. In 1918 she identified a bacterial infection carried by cows that could cause undulating fevers in humans. Soon after, milk pasteurization laws were enforced. Library of Congress
Gerty Cori (1896-1957) was a Czech-American biochemist who became the third woman, and first American woman, to win a Nobel Prize in science and the first woman to ever be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1947. She won the award with her husband, Carl Cori, for their discovery of the catalytic enzymes involved in the reversible conversion of glycogen -- an energy store in the body -- into glucose for energy. Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett
Barbara McClintock (1902-1992), was a U.S. geneticist and biologist. She won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of mobile genetic elements, or "jumping genes." Her discovery revealed that genes are responsible for switching on and off the physical traits of an organism. Pictured, Barbara McClintock alongside English novelist William Golding at the Nobel ceremony in 1983. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Elsie Widdowson (1906-2000) was a British dietitian and pioneer of the scientific study of nutrition. She and Dr Robert McCance are remembered for their work in World War II when they were responsible for overseeing the government mandated addition of vitamins to food and war time rationing. Widdowson went on to become President of the Nutrition Society, Neonatal Society and the British Nutrition Foundation. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) was an Italian neuroscientist known for her work in neurobiology. Along with Stanley Cohen, she won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of nerve growth factor, a protein controlling growth and development. Prior to her death in 2012, she was the oldest living Nobel laureate and first ever to reach their 100th birthday. Courtesy AudreySel/Flickr
Gertrude Elion (1918-1999) was a U.S. biochemist. Her research led to the development of many drugs, including ones used to treat malaria, herpes, meningitis and leukemia. In 1988, Elion, together with George Hitchings and Sir James Black, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their insight into the principles of drug treatments. She later became the first female to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Courtesy Wellcome Library, London
Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer best known for her pioneering use of X-ray diffraction and the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. Her contributions were largely recognized posthumously. Vittorio Luzzati, National Portrait Gallery, London
American physicist Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921-2011) won the 1977 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, for her development of radioimmunoassay (RIA). One use of these sensitive assays was to enable blood from donors to be screened for diseases such as hepatitis. Yalow conducted ground breaking research into type II diabetes and was the second woman in this category to win a Nobel Prize. Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Tu Youyou, born in 1930, is a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and teacher. She is most well-known for discovering artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin. These drugs were used to treat malaria and have saved millions of lives. In 2015, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura for her work. STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, born in 1942, is a German biologist. She won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995 alongside Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis for their contribution to research on the genes underlying the control of embryonic development. ullstein bild/ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, born in 1947, is a French virologist. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 alongside Luc Montagnier for their identification of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). She was President of the International AIDS society in 2012 and today remains a Professor at the Institut Pasteur, France and Research Director at INSERM. Marcus Rose/IAS
Margaret Chan OBE, born in 1947, is Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). She is from the People's Republic of China and began her career in public health with the Hong Kong department of Health where she was appointed Director in 1994. In this role she confronted the first human outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza and in 2003 controlled severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Linda B. Buck, born in 1947, is an U.S. biologist. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004, along with Richard Axel, for their discovery of olfactory receptors that bind odour molecules and play a central role in our sense of smell. HENRIK MONTGOMERY/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Elizabeth Blackburn, born in 1948, is an Australian biologist and current President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her joint discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that maintains the length and integrity of the ends of chromosomes, which is critical for the health and survival of all living cells and organisms. ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images
Carol Greider, born in 1961, is an U.S. molecular biologist and co-discoverer of telomerase, an enzyme critical for maintaining the length and integrity of chromosome ends, which play a role in cell aging. She made the discovery as a student of Elizabeth Blackburn with whom she was later awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
May-Britt Moser, born in 1963, is a Norwegian neuroscientist. She, alongside Edvard Moser and John O'Keefe, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work concerning grid cells that make up the positioning system of the brain. Her work enabled scientists to gain new insight into cognitive processes and spatial deficits associated with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Joanne Liu, born in 1965, is a Canadian doctor and current International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors Without Borders). Dr Liu helped create the telemedicine project, which connects MSF patients in 150 remote sites to more than 300 medical specialists around the world.
Courtesy MSF
Emmanuelle Charpentier (left), born in 1968, is a French researcher in Microbiology, Genetics and Biochemistry whilst Jennifer Doudna (right), born in 1964, is a Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Together, they discovered a versatile DNA editing technique to "rewrite" flawed genes in people and other living organisms, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating diseases.
MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images