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He Broke the Antibiotic Mold

22 July 1998 7:00 pm
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The man who coined the term "antibiotics" and pioneered their development was born on this day in 1888. While studying how plant and animal remains decompose in soil, microbiologist Selman Waksman of Rutgers University discovered a menagerie of filamentous soil bacteria. In 1943, while working on molds, he found that one produces a chemical that wards off bacterial attackers; streptomycin later became the first effective antituberculosis drug. Five years later, Waksman's team developed neomycin, another major antibiotic. In 1952, he won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his discovery of streptomycin. Waksman died in 1973.

Sources: Nobel Foundation, Encarta

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