The History of Cortisone Discovery and Development


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribers receive full online access to your subscription and archive of back issues up to and including 2002.

      Content published before 2002 is available via pay-per-view purchase only.


      Subscribe to Rheumatic Disease Clinics
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine 1950. Nobel Media AB, 2014 (Available at:) (Accessed June 1, 2015)
        • Hench P.S.
        Reminiscences of the Nobel Festival, 1950.
        Proc Staff Meet Mayo Clin. 1951; 26: 424-437
        • Rooke T.
        The quest for cortisone.
        Michigan State University Press, East Lansing (MI)2012
        • Lloyd M.
        Philip Showalter Hench, 1896-1965.
        Rheumatology (Oxford). 2002; 41: 582-584
        • Clapesattle H.
        The doctors Mayo.
        Pocket Books, New York1954
        • Hunder G.G.
        • Matteson E.L.
        Rheumatology practice at Mayo Clinic: the first 40 years-1920 to 1960.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2010; 85: e17-e30
        • Hench P.S.
        Analgesia accompanying hepatitis and jaundice in cases of chronic arthritis, fibrositis, and sciatic pain.
        Proc Staff Meet Mayo Clin. 1933; 8: 430-437
        • Hench P.S.
        Effect of jaundice on rheumatoid arthritis.
        Br Med J. 1938; 2: 394-398
        • Hench P.S.
        Potential reversibility of rheumatoid arthritis.
        Ann Rheum Dis. 1949; 8: 90-96
        • Hench P.S.
        A reminiscence of certain events before, during and after the discovery of cortisone.
        Minn Med. 1953; 36: 705-710
        • Le Fanu J.
        The rise and fall of modern medicine.
        Little, Brown, New York1999
        • Beamish R.
        • Ritchie I.
        The spectre of steroids: Nazi propaganda, cold war anxiety and patriarchal paternalism.
        Int J Hist Sport. 2005; 22: 777-795
        • Ingle D.J.
        Edward C. Kendall.
        Biogr Mem Natl Acad Sci. 1974; 47: 249-290
        • Kendall E.C.
        Cortisone: memoirs of a hormone hunter.
        Scribner, New York1971
        • Kendall E.C.
        Reminiscences on the isolation of thyroxine.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 1964; 39: 548-552
        • Simoni R.D.
        • Hill R.I.
        • Vaughan M.
        The isolation of thyroxine and cortisone: the work of Edward C. Kendall.
        J Biol Chem. 2002; 277: 21-22
        • Jeffcoate W.
        Thomas Addison: one of the three “giants” of Guy's Hospital.
        Lancet. 2005; 365: 1989-1990
        • Lovas K.
        • Husebye E.S.
        Addison's disease.
        Lancet. 2005; 365: 2058-2061
        • Patchett A.A.
        Lewis Hastings Sarett, December 22, 1917-November 29, 1999.
        Biogr Mem Natl Acad Sci. 2002; 81: 278-292
        • Sarett L.H.
        Partial synthesis of pregnene-4-triol-17(beta), 20(beta), 21-dione-3,11 and pregnene-4-diol-17(beta), 21-trione-3,11,20 monoacetate.
        J Biol Chem. 1946; 162: 601-631
        • Hetenyi Jr., G.
        • Karsh J.
        Cortisone therapy: a challenge to academic medicine in 1949-1952.
        Perspect Biol Med. 1997; 40: 426-439
        • Kendall E.C.
        Ann Intern Med. 1950; 33: 787-796
        • Hench P.S.
        • Kendall E.C.
        • Slocumb C.H.
        • et al.
        The effect of a hormone of the adrenal cortex (17-hydroxy-11-dehydrocorticosterone; compound E) and of pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone on rheumatoid arthritis.
        Proc Staff Meet Mayo Clin. 1949; 24: 181-197
        • Polley H.F.
        • Slocumb C.H.
        Behind the scenes with cortisone and ACTH.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 1976; 51: 471-477
        • Freyberg R.
        Witness to a miracle: the initial cortisone trial: an interview with Richard Freyberg, MD. Interview by Mary Ellen Warner.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2001; 76: 529-532
        • Laurence W.L.
        Aid in rheumatoid arthritis is promised by new hormone.
        New York Times. 1949; 1: 4
      2. Lasker Foundation prior awards. Lasker Foundation, 2014 (Available at:) (Accessed June 3, 2015)
        • Marks H.M.
        Cortisone, 1949: a year in the political life of a drug.
        Bull Hist Med. 1992; 66: 419-439
        • Burnett Jr., J.C.
        Biomedical research at Mayo Clinic: a tradition of collaboration and a vision for year 2000 and beyond.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2000; 75: 337-339
      3. Video player. Nobel Media AB, 2014 (Available at:) (Accessed June 1, 2015)
      4. O'Hanlon C, Williams T. Remembering a medical milestone: Mayo Clinic celebrates 50th anniversary of Nobel Prize for cortisone. Mayo Alumni 2001;37:2–6.

      5. A comparison of cortisone and aspirin in the treatment of early cases of rheumatoid arthritis; a report by the Joint Committee of the Medical Research Council and Nuffield Foundation on Clinical Trials of Cortisone, A.C.T.H., and Other Therapeutic Measures in Chronic Rheumatic Diseases.
        Br Med J. 1954; 1: 1223-1227
        • Glyn J.H.
        Cortisone and aspirin in rheumatoid arthritis.
        Br Med J. 1954; 1: 1376
      6. EMPIRE Rheumatism Council; multi-centre controlled trial comparing cortisone acetate and acetyl salicylic acid in the long-term treatment of rheumatoid arthritis; results up to one year.
        Ann Rheum Dis. 1955; 14: 353-370
      7. Cortisone versus aspirin.
        Lancet. 1956; 270: 325-326
      8. A comparison of cortisone and prednisone in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis; a report by the Joint Committee of the Medical Research Council and Nuffield Foundation on Clinical Trials of Cortisone, ACTH and other therapeutic measures in chronic rheumatic diseases.
        Br Med J. 1957; 2: 199-202
      9. A comparison of prednisolone with aspirin on other analgesics in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
        Ann Rheum Dis. 1959; 18: 173-188
        • Glyn J.
        The discovery and early use of cortisone.
        J R Soc Med. 1998; 91: 513-517
        • Nickeson R.W.
        Philip Showalter Hench, Nobel Laureate. Alumni News University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
        Spring ed, 1993: 14-16
        • Herzog H.
        • Oliveto E.P.
        A history of significant steroid discoveries and developments originating at the Schering Corporation (USA) since 1948.
        Steroids. 1992; 57: 617-623
        • Kavanaugh A.
        • Wells A.F.
        Benefits and risks of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment in the patient with rheumatoid arthritis.
        Rheumatology (Oxford). 2014; 53: 1742-1751
        • Buttgereit F.
        • Doering G.
        • Schaeffler A.
        • et al.
        Efficacy of modified-release versus standard prednisone to reduce duration of morning stiffness of the joints in rheumatoid arthritis (CAPRA-1): a double-blind, randomised controlled trial.
        Lancet. 2008; 371: 205-214
        • Buttgereit F.
        • Mehta D.
        • Kirwan J.
        • et al.
        Low-dose prednisone chronotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised clinical trial (CAPRA-2).
        Ann Rheum Dis. 2013; 72: 204-210
        • Krasselt M.
        • Baerwald C.
        The current relevance and use of prednisone in rheumatoid arthritis.
        Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2014; 10: 557-571
        • Prantera C.
        • Marconi S.
        Glucocorticosteroids in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and approaches to minimizing systemic activity.
        Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013; 6: 137-156