George H. Hitchings

George H. Hitchings

George Hitchings
George H. Hitchings in 1988
Born George Herbert Hitchings
April 18, 1905
Hoquiam, Washington
Died February 27, 1998
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Washington
Known for chemotherapy
Notable awards

George Herbert Hitchings (April 18, 1905 – February 27, 1998) was an American doctor who shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir James Black and Gertrude Elion "for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment," Hitchings specifically for his work on chemotherapy.[2][3][4][5][6]


  • Education and early life 1
  • Career and research 2
  • Awards and honors 3
  • References 4

Education and early life

Hitchings was born in Hoquiam, Washington, in 1905, and grew up there, in Berkeley, California, San Diego, Bellingham, Washington, and Seattle. He graduated from Seattle's Franklin High School, where he was salutatorian, in 1923, and from there went to the University of Washington, from which he graduated with a degree in chemistry cum laude in 1927, after having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior the year before. That summer, he worked at the university's Puget Sound Biological Station at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island [2], and received a master's degree the next year for his thesis based on that work.

From the University of Washington, Hitchings went to Harvard University as a teaching fellow, ending up at Harvard Medical School. Before getting his Ph.D. in 1933, he joined Alpha Chi Sigma in 1929.[7][8][9]

Career and research

Following his PhD, he worked at Harvard and Case Western Reserve University. In 1942, he went to work for Wellcome Research Laboratories, where he began working with Gertrude Elion in 1944. Drugs Hitchings' team worked on included 2,6-diaminopurine (a compound to treat leukemia) and p-chlorophenoxy-2,4-diaminopyrimidine (a folic acid antagonist). According to his Nobel Prize autobiography,

The line of inquiry we had begun in the 1940s [also] yielded new drug therapies for azathioprine) and bacterial infections (co-trimoxazole (trimethoprimA)). The new knowledge contributed by our studies pointed the way for investigations that led to major antiviral drugs for herpes infections (acyclovir) and AIDS (zidovudine).

In 1967 Hitchings became Vice President in Charge of Research of Burroughs-Wellcome. He became Scientist Emeritus in 1976. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at the Duke University School of Medicine. Hitchings died in 1998 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hitchings founded the Triangle Community Foundation in 1983. Hitchings is a member of the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame. His wife died in 1985.

Awards and honors

Hitchings was awarded the Passano award by the Passano Foundation in 1969, [10] and the de Villiers award in 1970.[11] He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1974.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Fellowship of the Royal Society 1660-2015". London:  
  2. ^ Raju, T N (2000), "The Nobel chronicles. 1988: James Whyte Black, (b 1924), Gertrude Elion (1918–99), and George H Hitchings (1905–98).", Lancet (Mar 18, 2000) 355 (9208): 1022,  
  3. ^ van Zwieten, P A (1988), "[Nobel prize for Medicine 1988]", Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde (Dec 31, 1988) 132 (53): 2401–2,  
  4. ^ Horgan, J (1988), "Physiology or medicine.", Scientific American (Dec 1988) 259 (6): 33,  
  5. ^ Sjöqvist, F (1988), "[Nobel Prize in medicine: three share this year's Nobel Prize in medicine. Important principles in drug therapy]", Lakartidningen (Oct 26, 1988) 85 (43): 3542–7,  
  6. ^ Goodwin, Len (1989). "George Hitchings and Gertrude Elion-Nobel Prizewinners". Parasitology Today 5 (2): 33.  
  7. ^ Then, R L (1993), "History and future of antimicrobial diaminopyrimidines.", Journal of chemotherapy (Florence, Italy) (Dec 1993) 5 (6): 361–8,  
  8. ^ Giner-Sorolla, A (1988), "The excitement of a suspense story, the beauty of a poem: the work of Hitchings and Elion", Trends Pharmacol. Sci. (Dec 1988) 9 (12): 437–8,  
  9. ^ Medicinal Chemistry Division, American Chemical Society, Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame, retrieved 30 August 2012 
  10. ^ Talalay, P (1969), "Presentation of Dr. George Herbert Hitchings for the Passano Award.",  
  11. ^ Dameshek, W (1970), "The deVilliers award of the Leukemia Society of America Inc. to George H. Hitchings, Ph.D.", Bibliotheca haematologica (36): XXI–XXII,