In 1948, Edward Kendall and Philip Hench created the first of the many “miracle drugs," which were actually synthesized hormones, to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. Hench and Kendall, who each headed a medical department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., realized that the adrenal glands play an important role in rheumatoid arthritis. The two noticed that a woman with rheumatoid arthritis had a lessening of symptoms while she was pregnant, and they worked to discover what caused the change. They were able to isolate a hormone in the cortex, or outer part, of the adrenal glands, which they called cortisone.
On Sept. 21, 1948, Hench administered a synthesized version of cortisone developed by Kendall to a patient with arthritis. The two researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1950 for their achievements.