Experiment Eleven: Dark Secrets Behind the Discovery of a Wonder Drug
Please join Bob Goodman, executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and Marianne Gaunt, vice president for information services and university librarian, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 1, 2012, at the Archibald S. Alexander Library on College Avenue for a talk and book-signing, featuring Peter Pringle, author of Experiment Eleven: Dark Secrets Behind the Discovery of a Wonder Drug. This new book describes the discovery of the antibiotic streptomycin and the drama that followed it.
Though we hardly think about it now, tuberculosis was the scourge of industrialized nations in the 19th and early 20th centuries. (It is still quite prevalent worldwide and especially in developing nations, with new infections occurring at an estimated rate of one per second globally.) Worse yet, there was no known cure, and mortality due to the disease was exceptionally high. Thus, the discovery of streptomycin by Albert Schatz, a graduate student in the laboratory of Selman A. Waksman, a professor at Rutgers' College of Agriculture, was hailed as a medical miracle for its ability to control and defeat tuberculosis.
The discovery is just the beginning of the story of streptomycin as laid out by author Peter Pringle in Experiment Eleven. In his book, he chronicles the deliberate exclusion of Schatz from the laurels surrounding the discovery, including the awarding of the coveted Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine given solely to Selman Waksman in 1952.
Pringle uses his talents as a former investigative reporter to unearth – almost literally – the facts behind the discovery of streptomycin and the controversy that ensued for Schatz and others who contributed to the breakthrough. He weaves in an array of details about the early lives of Waksman and Schatz, about the research team's collaborations with other well-known institutions, about the influence of an emerging pharmaceutical industry and about the role of Rutgers University in the subsequent recognition controversy.
Pringle was a foreign correspondent for 30 years for The Sunday Times (London), The Observer (UK) and The Independent (UK). He is author of several books, including Food, Inc., The Murder of Nikoli Vavilov, the novel Day of the Dandelion, the best-seller Those Are Real Bullets, Aren't They?, among many others. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Republic and The Nation. He has presented papers and articles to numerous prestigious world committees and conferences and was welcomed at Rutgers in 2008 for a Nikoli Vavilov talk and book-signing.
The Experiment Eleven lecture and book-signing are free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Space for this event is limited, so registration is strongly recommended.