18 April: Remembering George H. Hitchings on Birth Anniversary

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George H. Hitchings

George H. Hitchings (18 April 1905 – 27 February 1998) was an American biochemist and pharmacologist. He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1988 along with his colleague Gertrude B. Elion.

Life and Career

George Hitchings was born on 18 April 1905, in Hoquiam, Washington, U.S. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1927 and a master’s degree in 1928 from the University of Washington. Later, he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Harvard University in 1933.

He then worked as a researcher at Harvard Medical School and the Wellcome Research Laboratories in the UK. In 1942, he joined the Burroughs Wellcome Company in the US.

In 1944, Gertrude Elion, his future collaborator, joined. He started researching drugs with Elion and his staff, developing compounds for specific diseases, and testing them on animals.


Hitchings and Elion developed numerous drugs that revolutionized the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including leukemia, malaria, gout, and herpes. They used innovative approaches to design and synthesize drugs that selectively target diseased cells or microorganisms while sparing healthy cells. Their work led to the development of many important drugs, including azathioprine, allopurinol, acyclovir, and trimethoprim.

He became Vice President of Research at Burroughs Wellcome in 1967. From 1970 to 1985, he was an Adjunct Professor at Duke University teaching Pharmacology and Experimental Medicine. He became Scientist Emeritus at Burroughs Wellcome Co. in 1976.

George Hitchings died on 27 February 1998 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.


He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1988 along with his colleague Gertrude B. Elion, for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.

21 February: Tribute to Gertrude Belle Elion

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