Selman Waksman

Ukrainian-American scientist, biochemist, microbiologist who discovered Streptomycin and many antibiotics

Selman Abraham Waksman(July 22, 1888 – August 16, 1973) was a Jewish-Ukrainian-American inventor, biochemist and microbiologist whose research into organic substances—largely into organisms that live in soil—and their decomposition promoted the discovery of Streptomycin, and several other antibiotics. In 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition "for his discovery of "streptomycin," the first antibiotic active against tuberculosis."


  • The concept of the « struggle for existence » has been applied to microbial interrelationships in nature in a manner comparable to the effects assigned by Darwin to higher forms of life. It has also been suggested that the ability of a microbe to produce an antibiotic substance enables it to survive Giom. in competition for space and for nutrients with other microbes. Such assumptions ppear to be totally unjustified on the basis of existing knowledge. Before we proceed with a discussion of the formation and activities of antibiotics under natural conditions, we must consider certain fundamental aspects of the problem of antibiotic production under controlled laboratory or factory conditions... All the discussion of a "struggle for existence" in which antibiotics are supposed to play a part, is merely a figment of the imagination, and an appeal to the melodramatic rather than the factual.
    • As quoted by the Instituto di Microbiologia, (1956). Giornale Di Microbiologia. Volume 2; in proceedings of the First European Symposium on the Biochemistry of Antibiotics
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