Roger C.L. Guillemin
National Medal of Science
For demonstrating the presence of a new class of hormones, made in the brain, that regulate the function of the pituitary gland, thereby making possible improved diagnosis and treatment of numerous endocrine disorders.
VIEW STATISTICS +
BirthJanuary 11, 1924
Country of BirthFrance
Key ContributionsDiscovered New Class Of Hormones Produced In Brain
Awarded byGerald R. Ford
EducationUniversite de Montreal
University of Burgundy
University of Lyon
Areas of ImpactHealth & Medicine
AffiliationsSalk Institute of Biological Studies
Other PrizesNobel Prize
The hypothalamus, a cone-shaped brain structure, secretes tiny amounts of hormones. This chemical process signals other glands within the body to release additional hormones, regulating anything from hair growth to metabolism.
By the 1960s, researchers had long suspected – but been unable to prove – the hypothalamus’ role as a trigger in the hormonal process. It took 1.5 million sheep brains to find evidence.
From this cache of craniums, Roger Guillemin, the founder of neuroendocrinology, extracted a thyroid-regulating molecule called “thyrotropin-releasing hormone.”
A few years later, Guillemin’s team at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies isolated other substances from brain tissue, including hormones that control reproductive functions of the pituitary. This discovery contributed to breakthroughs in the treatment of fertility and prostate cancer.
Synthetic versions of other compounds isolated by Guillemin’s laboratory – including gonadotropin-releasing hormone, somatostatin and somatocrinin – have been integrated into treatments for tumors and endocrine disorders.