roughs Wellcome. 12 In 1968 she won the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society for her research in drugs for chemotherapy. Continued research in related purine compounds led to the discovery of the drug Acyclovir in 1974. This drug is used successfully to treat herpes virus infections. 13
One year after Elion retired in 1983 her research group introduced Azidothymidine, or AZT. AZT is used to treat the AIDS virus. In 1984, Elion received the Cain Award from the American Association of Cancer Research. The following year, she received the Distinguished North Carolina Chemist award from the American Chemical Society. In 1988, Elion received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She shared the award with George Hitchings and Sir James Black of the University of London. All three were recognized for contributing to a new method of drug development for a variety of diseases.
In 1990, Elion was awarded the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society. In 1991 she received the National Medal of Science and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Burroughs Wellcome gave Hitchings and Elion each $250,000 to donate to a charity of their choice in recognition of their contributions to science. Elion gave the money to Hunter College for scholarships for women in chemistry and biochemistry. 14 Also in 1991, she was elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the first woman to be so honored. 15
The greatest reward for Elion is hearing from the many patients whose lives have been saved through the drugs she discovered. 16 In retirement Elion keeps an active schedule, traveling, writing, teaching at Duke University School of Medicine, and serving on the boards of many cancer and health-related organizations. 17