She was a medical physicist and only the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in medicine. She received it in 1977 for developing a way to use radioactive isotopes to measure minute amounts of antigens in the blood.
She was a lifelong New Yorker, and though she graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College at the age of 19 as its first physics major, she faced an uphill battle breaking into her chosen field. The Times obituary says that Purdue University turned her down for a graduate position, noting
“She is from New York. She is Jewish. She is a woman.”
This is from her auto-biography on the Nobel web site,
I was excited about achieving a career in physics. My family, being more practical, thought the most desirable position for me would be as an elementary school teacher. Furthermore, it seemed most unlikely that good graduate schools would accept and offer financial support for a woman in physics. However my physics professors encouraged me and I persisted. As I entered the last half of my senior year at Hunter in September 1940 I was offered what seemed like a good opportunity. Since I could type, another of my physics professors, Dr. Jerrold Zacharias, now at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a part time position for me as a secretary to Dr. Rudolf Schoenheimer, a leading biochemist at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S). This position was supposed to provide an entrée for me into graduate courses, via the backdoor, but I had to agree to take stenography.