Andrzej Viktor ‘Andrew’ Schally is a Polish-born American endocrinologist who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work on the endocrine signaling of the nervous system. He shared the prize with Rosalyn Sussman Yalow and Roger Guillemin. His main study was on the production of peptide hormones that takes place in the brain. His work was centered around the hormones that affect the functions of the pituitary gland such as the ‘thyrotropin-releasing hormone’ or TRH, the ‘gonadotropin-releasing hormone’ or GnRH, also known as the luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone’ or LH-RH and somatostatin. His research helped more studies on reproductive endocrinology and neuro-endocrinology later on and also helped in the study of breast and prostate cancer. He also did a lot of pioneering work in the development of synthetic drugs for the treatment of different types of cancers. He had become interested in medical research at an early age of 23 when he joined the ‘National Institute of Medical Research’ and was influenced in his research by famous scientists like Sir Charles Harington, Dr. D. F. Elliot, Dr. R.R Porter, Dr. A. J. P. Martin and others. Though he joined the institute in a very junior position, his work was appreciated by all the senior scientists. His career in medical research took off from this point onward.
Childhood & Early Life
Andrew Schally was born on November 30, 1926, in Wilno, Poland which later came to be known as Vilnius located in Lithuania. His father, Kazimierz Piotr Schally, was a Brigadier General in the Polish Army and his mother was Maria Lacka Schally, the daughter of a Polish Army officer.
He had a sister named Halina Schally.
When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he had to flee from Poland with his family to neutral Romania.
After the war ended in 1945, he moved to Italy, France, England, Scotland and Canada before settling in America. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1962.
He did his initial schooling from the ‘Beaconhurst School, Bridge of Allen’ in Scotland and graduated from it in 1946.
After graduating from the high school he joined the ‘University of London’ to study chemistry.
He studied at the ‘National Institute of Medical Research’ in Mill Hill, London from 1950 to 1952.
He moved to the McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1952 to study endocrinology.
He started his research on the characteristics of the hypothalamus in 1954.
In 1955 he was able to demonstrate the presence of the ‘corticotrophin-releasing factor’ or CRF in the hypothalamus.
He received his B.Sc. degree in Biochemistry from the Mcgill University in 1955 and his PhD degree in Endocrinology from the same university in May, 1957.
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Andrew Schally joined the ‘Baylor University College of Medicine’ in Houston, Texas, USA, and worked from September 1957 to 1962 as an Assistant Professor of Physiology. He was also a ‘Senior Research Fellow’ of the ‘US Public Health Service’ during this period.
In 1961 he studied column electrophoresis at the ‘Institute of Biochemistry’ under the ‘University of Uppsala’ for one month.
He was appointed the Chief of a research laboratory set up by the ‘Veterans Administration’ or VA in New Orleans which helped him to continue with his research work.
In December 1962 he was appointed as the Chief of the ‘Endocrine and Polypeptide Laboratories’ at the VA Hospital in New Orleans.
He also joined the ‘Tulane University’ in 1962 as an Associate Professor of Medicine and became a full professor in 1966 at the same university.
In 1965, Dr. C. Gual working with the National Institute of Nutrition at Mexico City, invited him to help him perform clinical tests on hypothalamic hormones.
In 1968, he was helped by Cy Bowers at the ‘National Institute of Nutrition, Mexico City’, in demonstrating the presence of TRH in humans.
He worked on the isolation of TRH in 1969, LH-RH in 1971 and somatostatin in 1975.
In 1981 he was able to show that LH-RH also known as GnRH can inhibit the spread of prostate cancer in rats. Later the procedure was tried on patients suffering from advanced prostate cancer with a great amount of success.
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At present he holds the post of Chief of the ‘Endocrine, Polypeptide Cancer Institute, Veterans Affairs Medical Center’ at Miami, Florida.
Andrew Schally co-authored the book ‘The Hypothalamus and Pituary in Health and Disease’ with William Locke which was published in 1972.
Awards & Achievements
Andrew Schally was awarded the ‘Van Meter Prize’ by the ‘American Thyroid Association’ in 1969.
In 1970 he received the ‘William S. Middleton’ award.
He received the ‘Charles Mickle Award of the Faculty of Medicine’ from the ‘University of Toronto’ and the ‘Gairdner Foundation International Award’ in 1974.
The ‘Association of American Medical Colleges’ honored him with the ‘Borden Award’ in 1975.
He received the ‘Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award’ in 1975.
In 1977 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The ‘American Academy of Achievement’ presented him with the ‘Golden Plate Award’ in 1978.
In 1979 the government of Brazil honored him with the highest decoration known as the ‘Ordem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul’ while the ‘Social Security Hospital System of Spain’ honored him with the ‘Blue Cross, Gold Category’.
He received the ‘AMVETS, Silver Helmet, Civil Servant of the Year Award’ in 1981.
The ‘Award of Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social’ went to him in 1997.
He was made the ‘Chevalier, Legion d’Honneur’ in 2004.
The ‘Department of Veterans Affairs, Miami, Florida’ awarded him the ‘Research Excellence Award’ in 2012.
Personal Life & Legacy
Andrew Schally got married for the first time to Margaret Rachel White and had a son and a daughter from the marriage. The couple later got divorced.
He married Ana Maria de Mederios-Comaru in 1976 but he did not have any children from this marriage.