Discovery of Streptomycin by Dr. Selman Waksman

Discovery of Streptomycin by Dr. Selman Waksman

Streptomycin, an antibiotic, was discovered by Dr. Selman Waksman, a Ukrainian-born American biochemist and microbiologist. The discovery marked a significant milestone in the field of medicine, as streptomycin became the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis (TB) and many other bacterial infections. The development of streptomycin paved the way for the modern use of antibiotics and revolutionized the treatment of infectious diseases.


  • Dr. Selman Waksman and his research team, which included Albert Schatz, a graduate student, isolated streptomycin from the soil bacterium Streptomyces griseus. The discovery was made in their laboratory at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA. Streptomycin was effective against many bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. Its ability to combat TB was a major breakthrough, as TB was a leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Dr. Selman Waksman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1952 for his discovery of streptomycin.
  • Waksman coined the term “antibiotics” and is often called the “Father of Antibiotics.”
  • Albert Schatz, who played a crucial role in the discovery, was not recognized with a Nobel Prize, leading to a legal dispute between Schatz and Waksman.

Effects on Pop Culture: While the discovery of streptomycin may not have directly impacted pop culture, its significance in the medical field has been widely recognized and celebrated. For example:

  • Dr. Selman Waksman’s life and achievements have been featured in various documentaries and biographical works.
  • The discovery has been cited in numerous books, articles, and educational materials related to the history of medicine and the development of antibiotics.

Prominent People and Countries Involved:

  • Dr. Selman Waksman: As the scientist who discovered streptomycin, Dr. Waksman played a crucial role in revolutionizing the treatment of infectious diseases and was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work.
  • Albert Schatz: Schatz, a graduate student who collaborated with Waksman on the discovery, also made significant contributions to the development of streptomycin, although his role was not as widely recognized.
  • United States: As the country where the discovery of streptomycin took place, the United States has played a significant role in developing and distributing this life-saving antibiotic.

In summary, the discovery of streptomycin by Dr. Selman Waksman and his team in 1943 marked a turning point in treating infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis. The development of this antibiotic revolutionized medicine and has been celebrated for its impact on global health. Dr. Waksman’s contributions to the field earned him the Nobel Prize, and the story of streptomycin’s discovery remains an important part of the history of medical advancements.