The Marie Curie Legacy Campaign was established on 7th November 2017, to mark Marie Sklodowska Curie’s 150th birthday. She was an extraordinary scientist, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and still the only one awarded with two Nobel Prizes.
The discovery of radioactivity and radiation paved the path to new effective cancer treatments. The first successful treatment of cancer patients whose tumors were exposed to radioactive material was reported shortly after.
We still use the power of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy helps millions of cancer patients every year. We would like to commemorate and thank Marie Curie for her pioneering research on radioactivity and radiation.
Marie Sklodowska Curie was born on the 7th of November 1867 and is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is still the only woman to have received this honor twice. In 1903, Marie Curie shared her first Nobel Prize in physics with her husband Pierre and her colleague Henri Becquerel for the discovery of radium. She was honored with the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her discovery of polonium, named after her homeland Poland, in 1911.
Marie was a devoted scientist and esteemed physicist. She strongly promoted her and Roentgen’s discoveries in the medical field. The use of X-ray and radium as a treatment against cancer, as a way to sterilise equipment and wounds in war-zone hospitals or to image bomb shreds for surgical removal with mobile X-ray units are a couple of her exceptional accomplishments. Her strong engagement in the medical field provided the base for many subsequent discoveries and developments.
Marie Curie becomes a tutor. In a mutual agreement to financially support each other in their study plans, Marie would be the first to earn and send money to her sister. Marie became a tutor and governess in the household of a family for three years. Read more
Marie starts her studies in physics at the Sorbonne University. The Russian University in Warsaw does not enroll women. so Marie travels to Paris and goes to the Sorbonne University for her education. In Paris she meets Pierre Curie and starts working with him. Read more
Marie receives a student grant. She is awarded the Aleksandrowicze grant for exceptionally high-achieving Polish students abroad. This eases the difficult financial situation that Marie is exposed to during her student years. Read more
Roentgen discovers X-rays. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovers X-rays while examining cathode rays. He notices the glowing on an aluminium sheet exposed to it, even when material is placed in between the source and the sheet. He concludes that something invisible must have caused that fluorescence and observes that it also affects photographic films. He names those invisible rays X-rays. He then quickly realises that the different capacity of X-ray to penetrate materials and tissues, muscle or bones, caused the appearance of his skeleton hand on the fluorescent screen. Read more
Marie and Pierre Curie get married. When they met in 1891, Pierre was already a famous physicist having discovered piezoelectricity Read more
Marie's first daughter, Irene, is born. She grows up to be a successful physicist herself. Read more
Bequerel discovers uranium properties. Uranium appears to emit “invisible” rays. Marie investigates this further and discovers radium (named after the Latin word for "ray" as it emits rays), and polonium (named after her homeland). She coins the term "radioactivity". No patent is sought for radium as she wants it to “be freely available for all”. Read more
Cancer cure by radiation is first reported. Tage Sjoergren from Sweden reports the first case of a malignant tumour of the skin to be cured by use of radioactive source application. Read more
Marie defends her thesis and receives her doctoral degree. She is the first female recipient of a PhD in France. Her doctoral thesis has the title "research into radioactive substances". Read more
Marie receives the Nobel Prize for Physics. The Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 is awarded to Marie Curie, Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel for the discovery of "spontaneous radioactivity" and "researches on the radiation phenomena". Initial intentions to omit Marie fail due to the support of a prominent Stockholm mathematician, Mittag Leffler, who has supported female scientists before, and Marie's husband Pierre, who emphasises to the committee that this was a joint discovery. Read more
Marie gives birth to her second daughter Eve. Eve will take an interest in literature and become a war correspondent for the New York and London press during World War II. She goes on to devotedly nurse her mother when Marie falls ill in her last years. Read more
Pierre Curie is killed in street accident in Paris. Pierre dies tragically in a street accident when he slips on a rainy road. A harmonious marriage and a fruitful scientific collaboration ends. Marie is appointed to be his successor as Professor of Physics at Sorbonne. She is the first female professor. Read more
Marie Curie's Institute is established. The Radium-Institute, now named the Curie-Institute, in Paris is founded in 1909 as a non-profit organisation, dedicated to research on therapeutic uses of radiation. Marie Curie leads a large team of researchers. Read more
Marie is denied membership of the French Academy of Science. In the midst of a candidature for the French Academy of Science election, Marie is ostracised from Paris society. Even though the academy recently voted to accept women as members, her provenance and personal relationships, propagated by an unfavorable press, obstructs her candidature and election to the academy. Read more
Marie takes part in the 1st International Solvay conference in Physics. Solvay conference in Physics. The committee gathers the most talented and skilled physicists at the time. Marie is the only woman of 24 invited participants, including Albert Einstein, Max Plank, Ernest Rutherford and Paul Langevin. Read more
Marie receives the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She receives the price "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element". Read more
The “petites (small) Curies” are established. During World War I, Marie creates and operates mobile X-ray units ("petites curies") to image and treat war soldiers. She also produces devices that use radium to sterilise wounds. Read more
The American Women award Marie for her achievements. Marie goes to the USA to receive a gift of 1g radium, presented by President Harding and paid for by American women. She donates radium from this gift for medical purposes during war times. Read more
Marie Curie visits the “radium hospital”. On her US trip, Marie visits the Memorial Hospital in New York to see the radium vault designed by Gioaccino Failla, a physicist who was trained by Marie Curie in Paris. Read more
Marie joins the League of Nations. Marie expresses her pacifistic views when attending the international Committee of Intellectual Collaboration organised by the League of Nations. She and Albert Einstein are good friends, frequently corresponding with each other on the matter. Einstein says of Marie: "She is the only person, who wasn't corrupted by fame" . Read more
The Curie Institute Warsaw is created. Funded by donations and thanks to Marie's initiative and help, her Radium Institute in Warsaw, an oncological institute, is created. The official inauguration, at which Marie participates, takes place in 1932. Read more
Radiotherapy becomes a profession. From about 1930 on, full-time radiotherapists are appointed. A radium commission is set up to optimise the use of radium for medical purposes, and radium centres are set up. Leopold Freund, Neville Finzi, Goesta Forssell and Walter Levitt are instrumental in establishing the “medical radiotherapist” profession. Read more
“Radiotherapy cures cancer” news begins to emerge. This involves the first analyses and reports on cure rates after radiotherapy for patients. Many patients with “carcinoma of the cutis, labii, oris” and with “sarcomata”, as they are known at the time, are cured. Read more
Marie Curie dies at the age of 66. In her last years, Marie suffers from anaplastic anaemia, probably caused by long-term exposure to radioactive material without protection. She is reported to have carried her radium around in her skirt pocket all the time, thereby exposing herself for most of her life. Read more
Marie's daughter receives the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Irene Joliot-Curie and her husband receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry "in recognition for their synthesis of new radioactive elements", the discovery of artificial radiation. Read more
The ESTRO Cancer Foundation is founded. The ECF (ESTRO Cancer Foundation) aims to raise awareness of the widespread benefits of radiotherapy. Read more
The Marie Curie Legacy Campaign is launched by the ESTRO Cancer Foundation.
'Radiotherapy: seizing the opportunity in cancer care' white paper is launched.Read more
The Marie Curie Legacy Campaign hosts a policy forum at the European Parliament.