Gertrude Elion: It wasn’t very prestigious at the time. I was making the magnificent sum of $50 a week, and I was expected to do what I was told. I was told to make certain compounds, look it up in the library, see how it was done, and so on. I also started work on my Ph.D. at that time.
I started going at night out to Brooklyn, Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. For two years, I went three nights a week from Westchester County, all the way out to Brooklyn, back to the Bronx where I lived. And I was happily thinking, “Well, in about ten years, I’ll have my doctorate.” Then the dean said, “No, you can’t do that, because we want you to come full-time. If you are serious about it, you will give up your job.” And I said, “No way. I’m not going to give up that job. It’s the one I’ve really been looking for.” I discussed it with Dr. Hitchings, and he said, “You don’t need to get a doctorate. You can do it all without.” I’m not sure I believed him at the time, but I decided to take the chance. So I never went back.