Roger Guillemin, father of neuroendocrinology, world renowned humanist scientist, and
winner of the Nobel Prize in 1977 (with Rosalyn S. Yalow and Andrew V. Schally) for his
work on the physiological control of the secretion of the pituitary gland, is now also
widely recognised as an artist.
Born in Dijon in France on 11 January 1924, he graduated from the medical school in
Dijon in 1943 and received the M.D. degree from the Faculté de Médecine of Lyon in 1949,
where he worked for about two years in the general anatomy laboratory.
While at Lyon he met Hans Selye, an expert on stress, and followed him to Montreal.
After completing his thesis in Lyon, he returned to America, where he developed an
interest in the history of medicine. He obtained a Ph.D. in physiology in 1953 and joined
the staff of the Department of Physiology at the Baylor University College of Medicine in
Houston, Texas, where he taught physiology until 1970.
He became an American citizen in 1963. He had already begun to collaborate with Andrew
V. Schally at Baylor. In 1960 he had briefly returned to France as vice-director of the
Endocrinology Laboratory of the Collége de France, but, not satisfied with the way his
research was going, he returned to the United States. In 1969, he and his colleagues in
Baylor succeeded in isolating the
first of the hypothalamic releasing factor, TRF, a result which he himself has
described as the fundamental event for the birth of modern neuroendocrinology, an event
which signalled the end of the pioneering phase and the beginning of an expanding new
In 1970 he and his staff accepted the proposal of Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio
vaccine, to transfer to the Laboratories for Neuroendocrinology at the Salk Institute for
Biological Studies in La Jolla, near San Diego.
In 1982, after being awarded the Nobel Prize (1977), Guillemin and his colleagues
identified a new category of molecule called FGF (Fibroblast Growth Factors), a discovery
which proved fundamental for the treatment of several diseases of the eye and for diabetic
blindness. In 1989 he officially retired as director of the laboratory, although remaining
Distinguished Professor of the Salk Institute.