Gertrude Erika Perlmann was born in Reichenberg, Czechoslovakia on April 20, 1912. She received a Doctor of Science degree from the German University of Prague and worked for a time at the Czechoslovakian Public Health Institute in Prague before moving to Copenhagen, where she worked at the Biological Institute of the Carlsberg Foundation. In 1939 she left Europe to pursue research at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 1946, Perlmann left Massachusetts for the Rockefeller Institute as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow. She remained at the Rockefeller Institute and rose through the ranks, finally achieving the rank of Professor in 1973.
While working at Rockefeller, she spent six months as a visiting professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. In 1964, Perlmann received the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society for her work on the structure of pepsin, the enzyme related to food digestion, and proteins. Dr. Perlmann died in New York on September 9, 1974.