#SeeHer Story Honors Marie and Irène Curie, Mother-Daughter Medicine Moguls in Episode 11
#SeeHer Story airs on PEOPLE.com and @PeopleTV social handles
The mother-daughter duo Marie and Irène Curie, both Nobel Prize winners, paved a path for women in science and advancements in modern medicine. While much of the Curie’s work took place nearly a century ago, their efforts in treating cancer continue to influence the medical world today.
In an effort to honor these two pioneers for their innovative work in science, #SeeHer Story has chosen to look back at the profound life of the scientific pioneers.
The goal of #SeeHer Story, a digital video series from Katie Couric Media and PEOPLE, is to recognize female trailblazers throughout the past 100 years and celebrate how they’ve helped to shape history and culture.
As this year marks the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, the series hopes to commemorate such an important time for women in history by recognizing fearless women who have made strides for others to follow in their footsteps.
Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867, Marie Curie grew up dreaming up becoming a scientist. When women were not given the opportunity to attend university, she didn’t take no for an answer — Marie packed up and moved to Paris to begin her science journey at the Sorbonne.
“It was like a new world opened to me, the world of science, which I was at last permitted to know in all liberty,” she once explained of her time in school.
Her marriage to Pierre Curie, a fellow physicist, was a true match of scientific mind. The two discovered two radioactive elements together: polonium and radium. Their revolutionary work earned the couple the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, marking the first time a woman was given the honor.
Pierre died two years later in a car accident, however, Marie continued her scientific work while raising their daughters Irène and Éve.
Despite being a single parent, she also remained singularly dedicated to her work, winning another Nobel prize in 1911 and becoming the first person in history to earn the coveted award twice.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Irène joined Marie’s research team in 1918. The two became pioneers of nuclear medicine, discovering how to diagnose and shrink cancerous tumors with the use of radiation.
The mother-daughter pair continued making strides for women in medicine as they opened a cancer hospital — for and staffed completely by women — in 1930.
After Marie passed in 1934 as a result of effects from her exposure to radiation, Irène and her husband continued their mother’s legacy, winning another Nobel prize in 1936. Like her mother, Irène ultimately fell to the poisons she studied, dying of leukemia in 1956.
The Curies’ groundbreaking work paved the way for decades of scientific advancements and they continue to be recognized for their exceptional discoveries more than a century later.