The Advent of Radioiodine Therapy

Chicks are used in studies of the role hormone plays in stimulating thyroid. The technician on the left is measuring out a specific amount of sodium iodide, containing radioactive iodine (I-131). U.S. Department of Energy/Public domain

Humans have recognized thyroid disease for thousands of years. But in the 1930s. Saul Hertz had an insight after hearing a physicist's lecture that changed the treatment of hyperthyroidism forever.

Holly's Research:

  • Bagley, Derek. “The Saga of Radioiodine Therapy.” Endocrine News. January 2016.
  • Mayo Clinic. “Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).”
  • Mayo Clinic. “Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
  • “Marine, David.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University.
  • Smallridge, Robert C. et. Al. “A Century of Hyperthyroidism at Mayo Clinic.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. January 2016. Accessed online:
  • Sargis, Robert M., MD, PhD. “How Your Thyroid Works.” EndocrineWeb. Oct. 24, 2018.
  • American Thyroid Association. “Thyroid History Timeline.”
  • Hertz, Barbara. “Saul Hertz MD 1905-1950.”
  • Beierwaltes, William H. “The History of the Use of Radioactive Iodine.” Seminars in Nuclear Medicine. Volume 9. Issue 3. July 1979.
  • Fahey, Frederic H., et al. “Saul Hertz MD and the Birth of Radionuclide Therapy.” EJNMMI Physics. December 2017. Published online April 2017.
  • McGehee, Harvey A., MD. “James Howard Means and His Romance With the Thyroid Gland.” The American Journal of Medicine. June 1981. Volume 70. Issue 6.
  • “Nuclear Medicine.” National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.” July 2016.
  • Sawin, CT and DV Becker. “Radioiodine and the treatment of hyperthyroidism: the early history.” Thyroid. April 7,1997.

Topics in this Podcast: Jewish history, cancer, disputes, discoveries, U.S. history, 20th century, medical history