Waksman, Selman Abraham

Waksman, Selman Abraham wäksˈmən [key], 1888–1973, American microbiologist, b. Priluka, Russia, grad. Rutgers (B.S. 1915), Ph.D. Univ. of California, 1918. He went to the United States in 1910 and was naturalized in 1916. He taught at Rutgers from 1918 and was a professor there from 1930. At the New Jersey State Agricultural Experiment station, where he became microbiologist in 1921, Waksman and his associates made studies of the decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms, of the origin and nature of humus, and of the production of substances detrimental to certain bacteria. He was awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the antibiotic streptomycin and of its value in treating tuberculosis, but the discovery of the antibiotic actually was made by Albert Schatz, a graduate student working in Waksman's laboratory who had been recognized by Waksman and Rutgers as co-discoverer after a lawsuit. In addition to many scientific papers Waksman wrote Enzymes (with W. C Davison, 1926); Principles of Soil Microbiology (1927); The Soil and the Microbe (with R. L. Starkey, 1931); Humus (1936); Microbial Antagonisms and Antibiotic Substances (1945); The Conquest of Tuberculosis (1964); and The Actinomycetes (1967).

See study by P. Pringle (2012).

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