Man of the Soil
July 22, 1888, Nova Pryluka, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire – August 16, 1973, Woods Hole, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States
Selman Abraham Waksman (Зельман Абрахам Ваксман), an outstanding American microbiologist, was born in the Russian Empire (current territory of Ukraine) and graduated from the 5th Gymnasium in Odessa. In 1910 Waksman emigrated to the United States, where he continued education. He first obtained a Bachelor degree in agriculture from the Rutgers College in 1915, then worked as an assistant under supervision of Jacob Goodale Lipman in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and finally obtained PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California Berkeley in 2018. Was invited by Lipman to return to work at Rutgers University where worked till his retirement in 1958.
Waksman became world renowned for his seminal work on novel antibiotics. He discovered a number of important antibiotics incliding streptomycin (jointly with Albert Schatz), for which he recieved a Nobel prize in 1952. In 1949 Time Magazine featured Waksman on the cover. The proceeds earned from the licensing of his patents were used to fund establishment of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers.
In memory of this exceptional individual we publish a link to the audio recording of his 1969 lecture at Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting about research on antibiotics, a short film by Rutgers University about the discovery of streptomycin and a memoir about Waksman published by the USA National Academy of Sciences.
Selman Waksman: “Successes and Failures in Search for Antibiotics”
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
“Man of the soil”, Time magazine titled a story on Selman Waksman in April 1949, and this headline hit the mark…” (Read and listen here…)
Rutgers and Streptomycin: First Tuberculosis Treatment
Selman Abraham Waksman 1888 – 1973
A Biographical Memoir by Rollin D. Hotchkiss