Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
5~ 6. Sac
SE LMAN AB RAHAM WAKSMAN July 22, 1888-August 16, 1973 BY ROLLIN D. HOTCHKISS MANY GETS EVE COME to humanity from Selman Waksman's energy, enthusiasm, en c! passion for science. These came about through the clevelopment of valuable antibiotic substances cliscoverecl in his systematic researches on mi- crobial components of the soil. With extraordinary humanism en cl philanthropy he usecl the royalties that resultecl from the commercial clevelopment of these "miracle medicines" as further contributions to society. He clonatec! a major part of them to create institutes en cl enclow foundations that continue to support . International fellowships en cl grants beneficial to science en c! medicine. All of this without having the advantage so many scholars have hacI: early family or local role moclels demonstrating the qualities en cl traditions of academic science and research. Selman Abraham Waksman was born en cl raisecl in the rural Ukrainian town of Novaya Priluka. Remaining in that remote town on the steppes until age 20, he certainly could not have dreamed of the triumphs and obstacles that lay ahead. His father macle a moclest living tencling en cl rent- ing some small houses he owned. His mother was a capable manager of her own ciry goocis business, clevelopecl while the father was away on years of military service. The youngest of eight intelligent en c! pious sisters, she energetically strove 321
322 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS to leac! a rational en c! useful life in the fine Jewish tradition. Starting with an impressive en cl accomplishecl grandmother, this matriarchy was clearly prowl of the stirring ambitions of young Selman. As an only surviving chiTcI, he was lover! en cl supported in his tendency to outdo, rather than rebel against, the stanciarcis of his community. Probably their back- ing was responsible for the easy, confident way he approaches! personal relationships en cl decisions later in his career. Intellectual stimulation of a general sort there was, Waksman for some years stucliec! the Bible en c! Talmuc! en c! the history of the pious Jewish people en cl their enthusiasm for learning. From the age of 10 he was continually involvecl in tutoring other less able students in their academic weak spots. Simultaneously he availecl himself of tutors to speecl his own advance. His autobiography (Waksman, 1954) gives us a prouc! en c! nostalgic recollection of the influences in his youth that movecl him toward a career in the study of life processes. The rich black soil of his native town en cl the surrounding villages supported a teeming agricultural life that he couIcl not have missed. He may not have clone much practical work in it, but he was perceptive in developing an early, incompletely formulates! curiosity about such chemistry as goes on in the fertile soil. Probably his family expected that he wouIcl become a malamed, teacher of local youth, but his tutors en c! his father were aware of a big worIcl outside, with larger projects. By the age of 20, after his mother's cleath, he surrenclerecl his legacy in his father's modest house properties and moved to the larger centers, Zhitomir en cl Odessa. He passed several examinations for more acivancecl stucly, then following the example of some of his relatives, migrates! to the Uniter! States in ~ 910. Received in New York by a cousin, a chicken farmer in New Jersey, he was installed in their home and for a few
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 323 years performer! useful work on the family farm. He soon enrollecl at nearby Rutgers College, where he came uncler the influence of Jacob Lipman en cl Byron HalstecI. The former acivisec! an agricultural course rather than one in medicine, en cl proceeding on this line, Waksman took acceleratecl course work, spencling the fourth year in research. Askocl to assay the bacteria in culture samples from successive soil layers, he became cir awn to fungi en cl eventually some regularly appearing pleomorphic, filamentous bacteria, the actino- mycetes. These became an abicling interest en c! the focus of his master's degree thesis, which he received in 1916, en cl in his doctorate with H. Brailsforcl Robertson at the University of California, Berkeley. The little investigates! actinomycetes continual as a subject in which he wouIcl become a major expert. In 1916 he became a naturalizes! U.S. citizen. The move to California was also a wocicling trip following his marriage to Deborah Mitnik, an accomplishecl vocalist en cl artist from his hometown who was affectionately known in the family as Bobili. She became a guicle en cl spur for his cultural advances in the Unitecl States en cl internationally. Their clevotec! partnership remainec! steadfast en c! enricher! the remainder of their lives. It was necessary to supplement his graduate fellowship stipend, so he starter! to work for an inclustrial meclical organization, Cutter Laboratories, which wouIcl set a pattern that proved useful later on. Back at Rutgers Agricultural Bacteriology Department in 1918 his position was at first precarious. Neecling to augment a meager income, he clevelopecl a comfortable cooperative association with the local inclustrial Takamine laboratory. Continuing research on the soil microflora, he clescribecl new thiobacilli ( 1922) that oxidize elemental sulfur. Exploring vigorously the actinomycetes en c! fungi, he analyze c!
324 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS en c! reporter! systematically the life to be fount! in several soil environments of the New WorIcl (1916~. In time he wouIcl redefine the bacteriology department as one of soil microbiology. Eventually his interest in natural chemical processes lecl him to studies of some mollifications an investigator couIcl impose on those soil processes. In these still strenuous years a son was born in Septem- ber 1919 en cl was loyally namecl Byron Halstecl Waksman, after one of Selman's inspiring mentors. After some infant health clifficulties the chiTc! wouic! go on to become an active en cl capable student himself, en cl eventually an accomplishecl immunologist, carrying on the family tradition of service to meclical science en c! to the public. In 1924 after several years clevotecl to soil research the Waksmans travelecl in Europe for six months. While there, Selman visitec! many important laboratories en c! institutes in France, Italy, Germany, en cl Scandinavia, discussing methods en cl research with many workers in soil biology en c! chemistry close to his fielcI. His cliary reporter! (Waksman, 1954, pp. 123-55) that while he met some impressive soil biologists, among them Sergei Winogracisky, then resident in France, others were not living up to that field's possibilities. He also briefly visited some important European biochemists. The Waksmans were welcomed in their native Ukraine, but fount! a depressing clecay in conditions there. His wife, Deborah, having introclucecl Selman to a broacler cultural life in New York, macle sure that they visited important museums en c! concert halls in Europe. He returnee! to the United States both exhausted and stimulated by new possi- bilities he envisioned. On the returning steamship he found young French biologist Rene Dubos, who was immigrating to the United States, en cl soon offered him a place in the Rutgers labora- tory. This encounter was ultimately significant for both men.
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 325 The laboratory hac! now grown to be a rather popular training ground. In teaching the lore of soil microbiology Waksman hacl occasion to describe to the students the inhibitory inter- actions between organisms in the soil, probably presenting them as examples of "environmental" influence, complex en cl variable. Dubos became, by his nature, a thoughtful student in this field! en c! began soon to Took upon them more as discrete biochemical interactions. In any case, by 1927 the student was pursuing one-on-one effects of soil organisms in decomposing cellulose en c! was beginning an approach that wouIcl leacl to moclern antibiotics. Other steps hacl to be macle, however. Dubos, traveling to New York City especially to consult his countryman Alexis Carrel, was referred to Oswalcl Avery. The latter, at the Rockefeller Institute Hospital, was searching for something that wouic! attack the capsular polysaccharicle of a special line of pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumonias, Type III) that he hacl isolatecI. Hearing of the problem, D ubo s imme cliately propo se c! th at a soil bacterium conic be founcl for the purpose. Hirecl by Avery for this stucly, he clicl succeed at Rockefeller in fincling in soil such a culture. For a time this seemed! of possible therapeutic use. In later steps Dubos with Avery clevelopecl the concept of a Gram-positive core antigen of pneumococcus to be attackocI. Again Dubos set out with live bacteria en c! soil samples to look for enriched growth of something clestroy- ing the pneumococci. Such an agent was eventually isolatecl (Dubos, 1939) en c! pursued as a wartime project. He iclenti- fied the culture as Bacillus brevis. Joining the project, I iso- latecl from the crucle agent, tyrothricin, two crystalline polypeptides, tyrocidine and gramicidin, with different anti- bacterial properties. These were the first highly purified substances proclucecl from a cleliberate search for bacteria that inhibited growth of other bacteria. .
326 . B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS It must be realizer! that there was an "unorthodox" feature In this fincling: Ever since the time of Koch en cl Lister much emphasis in infectious disease hacl been placecl on the necessity of avoiding contamination of infections by soil or other non-sterile matter. It was an escape from this categorical thinking to consider using a soil-clerivecl culture to combat an infectious process! The careful meclical investigators hac! not ventured that implicit step. Moreover, the unsystematic use of mucipacks in whimsical folk practice couIcl never have lee! to it. The excitement proclucecl by this purposeful search by his former student gave Selman Waksman a clear stimulus to seek more examples. He soon organizer! an energetic search for preexisting antibacterial organisms in soil samples that was to continue for years with the help of clozens of collaborators. So was overcome a paralysis that hac! set in following the earlier somewhat analogous discovery by Alexancler Fleming of an acciclental contamination of bac- terial cultures by an airborne inhibitory moist Producing penicillin). Although it hacl also been consiclerecl for thera- peutic use, penicillin hacl not been proclucecl in a stable useful form until wartime ~940. The Waksman group clicl their screening by looking for growth inhibition zones around single colonies of a series of systematically isolates! soil microbes on agar plates, grow- ing uncler a variety of culture conditions (1940~. Now they tested the inhibition on specifically targeted pathogenic bacteria, as Dubos hac! clone. Government support for this work was sought but not granted, however through the help of A. N. Richards, support was obtained from the Common- wealth Fund. The group in the next few years described more than 20 new natural inhibitory substances, mainly from actinomycetes. Among them were streptomycin, neomycin, and actinomycin. Waksman proposed the now standard term
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 327 "antibiotics" for this class of natural growth inhibitors. In time countless more examples came from the commercial industries that sprang up, extending the searches. The roster continues to grow to the present clay. For Waksman the discovery of streptomycin in 1944 and its effect on the tubercle bacillus accomplishecl with the col- laboration of A. Schatz en c! confirmation by E. Bugle was a rich en cl satisfying fulfillment of many of his personal en cl altruistic aims. Ever practical, he establishecl effective en cl congenial relations with Merck en c! Company, which clevel- opecl liquicl culture methods for procluction of bulk quantities of the microbial products cluring WorIcl War II. Patenting en c! licensing the promising ones, notably streptomycin, pro- viclecl funcis, 80 percent of which was assigned to Rutgers University to support research en cl eventually an associated Institute of Microbiology. He also soon arranger! to have animal tests en cl clinical trials carried out at the Mayo Clinic to expedite the possible use in treating tuberculosis. Of the 20 percent of license funcis accruing in his own name, one- half was later consigned to a foundation for research support. Throughout the 1930s Waksman hacl been acutely aware of the growth of fascism en c! anti-Semitism uncler Hitler. As one response he resigned from editorships in German journals. In aciclition he embarkocl on a stucly of marine bacteriology en c! clic! useful service in the stucly of fouling of oceangoing vessel bottoms for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. This was clone through a connection with the Woocis Hole Oceanographic Institution, which became a lasting link for him en cl his family in Woocis Hole, Massachusetts. His work on humus conversion into peat in this period also server! to give the Uniter! States an inclepenclent source of this interesting material. In recognition of his energetic studies en cl analyses of soil microorganisms, he was elected! to membership in the
328 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS National Academy of Sciences at the very outset of the anti- biotic searches in 1942. A postwar European trip of five months in 1946 brought a series of opportunities to convey serious reports on the values of antibiotic treatments to eager en cl grateful meclical audiences. It also proviclecl a chance to visit son, Byron, who was on Army meclical service in Germany. In aciclition he revisited the Soviet Union, where he establishecl influen- tial relations en cl gave well-receivecl lectures in Moscow. However, after the ravages of war only a few of the oic! friends en cl relatives remained from his native Priluka. Near Paris he visited Serge Winogradsky, by then 90 years old, ant! began a process to secure the publication of that pioneer's collectecl works. It wouIcl eventually involve him in further financial support. Briefer repeats of this kind of triumphal visit wouic! occur as he receiver! something like 13 mecials en cl awards from European countries within the next six years. Among them was the Emil Christian Hansen Awarc! in Denmark en c! appointments to the French Academy of Science en cl the Legion of Honor. In the Unitecl States he received many awards, inclucI- ing a Passano Foundation Awarc! en c! a Lasker Award, a notable honorary degree ceremony at Princeton, as well as numerous mecials from pharmaceutical en cl other societies. A more complete list of some 66 awards en c! 22 honorary degrees appears in the volume (Woodruff, 1968) organized by Waksman colleagues in Rutgers to honor his eightieth birthday. AIreacly in 1949 he hacl proposal to establish an Insti- tute of Microbiology in association with Rutgers (Waksman, ~ 954, p. 277) . This was formally achiever! in ~ 95 ~ en c! com- pleted in 1954 with a dedication and symposium in which many eminent microbiologists participated. The institute was endowed and supported by the SO-percent assignment
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 329 of streptomycin patent royalties to Rutgers en c! has hac! a productive history through the years. Successive directors have been Selman Waksman, ~ 954-5S, I. Oliver Lampen, 1958-80, Davic! Pramer, 1980-~S, en c! Joachim Messing, 1988 to the present. Each director reclefinecl the mission policy en cl organization of what was renamed the Waksman Institute of Microbiology after the founcler's cleath in 1973. As other enclowocl institutions have clone, it has hacl to clevelop graclu- ally more of its support from government sources cluring later years. Although I was appointed for a term on the institute's Boarcl of Acivisors, the administration at that time clicl not have occasion to call upon us for more than official mail votes. My experience with the institute was accorclingly by way of attending most of its symposia en cl conferences en cl observing from outsicle its stepw~se movement towarc! a center for molecular biology en cl genetics. INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION AND SHARING REWARDS The great practical promise of streptomycin for tuber- culosis en cl other infections lecl to the award of a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1952. There was much acclaim for the effort en cl patience expenclecl in the clevel- opment of the antibiotic treatments, en cl it inspired others to similar allies! work. A broac! public response to this aware! brought many additional honors, such as the Japanese Order of Merit of the Rising Sun en cl invitations from en cl con- tacts with colleagues in Europe en c! Asia. The Nobel Prize did not diminish Waksman's conscien- tious effort to convey the knowlecige en cl insight of careful scientific work. In the pre-Nobe! perioc! he publisher! 16 books en cl monographs en cl in the two clecacles after almost as many more, most of them uncler his sole authorship. These were well-documented works, thoroughly covering the history
330 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS en c! essential science of their subjects. Whatever clerical help he may have hacI, it is clear that he hacl an ability to cligest en cl assemble straightforward information from the publisher! literature. In the later perioc! several of his books were grateful biographies of his personal heroes, Sergei Winogradsky (Waksman, ~953), Jacob Lipman (who had acivisec! him to enter agricultural en c! soil science rather than medicine (Waksman, ~ 966), en cl the tragic Walclemar Haffl`ine (Waksman, 1964~. His papers on antibiotics continues! unabated, although the pattern changed. Before the prize three-fourths of them were with coauthors, but after the prize a large number of historical reports en c! aciciresses were composer! uncler sole authorship en cl cleliverecl with inspiring enthusiasm en cl a consiclerable degree of pricle. A similar pricle, cleliverecl never- theless with sober modesty, characterizes his autobiography (Waksman, 1954), appearing in 1954 in the Unitecl States en cl later in translations in several other countries. Now the honors en c! awards were coming at an increaser! rate. More details of these than can be accommodated here can be found in the jubilee volume prepared on Waksman's eightieth birthday (Woodruff, 1968~. Royalty fees were also accumulating en cl largely clonatecl in support of research. Merck en cl Company was always appreciative of Waksman en c! his associates' rights en c! they too prover! public spirited! in sharing commercial privileges at a time when the Unitecl States was at war. I have worked with several of Waksman's associates, includ- ing Julius Marmur, Dorris Hutchinson, and Jack Fresco, and have known several others. Uniformly they clisplayocl a warm respect, even admiration for the hare! work en c! clepencI- able goocl will of the "professor." There was also my lifetime of association with Rene Dubos, who clifferecl consiclerably from Waksman in temperament. Yet never as we talker! about
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 331 antibiotics clic! he more than suggest that the systematic repetition of empirical searches was not for him. Perhaps some other scientists of the intuitive type felt that Waksman's productive career was more characterizes! by systematic clevel- opment of a few icleas than by "exciting" formulation of new ones. There was one unfriencITy legal action, brought by former coworker Albert Schatz, who cleclinecl to surrender some of the rights in streptomycin clevelopment to Waksman, clemancI- ing personal payment for his participation. Let us suppose the case originated within familiar bouncis: the pricle of an able young associate having overcome technical obstacles en c! successfully maneuverer! part of the routes to solution. This was a time when the contributions of young associates were just beginning to get more recognition. In such situa- tions the contributions of the experiences! senior Divisor, which can inclucle the unclerlying planning en cl facilities for the project, its initiation, timing, en cl quite likely a sub- stantial part of the special methoclology, all can be clisregarclec! by lawyers conclucting a "nuisance" claim. That was an ele- ment of this case, it gave Waksman great distress en cl was only "settlecI" by a costly en c! practical compromise (Waksman, 1954, pp. 279-85~. In consequence he felt thatjustice obligecl him to use still more of the royalties to give unsought bonuses to his entire staff and coworkers. This gesture in turn earned even more of their general loyalty en cl goodwill. How may we evaluate Selman Waksman's scientific career? It seems to me that his most outstanding trait was his patient, ciriving energy clirectecl toward altruistic goals. His personal skills in the realms of morphology en cl nutrition of a wicle range of microorganisms were put at the service of an active curiosity and a retentive memory. He accomplished much in looking into the natural biological processes going on in the soil. In most of this work he remained! close to nature:
332 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS to constructs en c! theories that emphasizer! interactive en c! ecological relationships. In the laboratory he sought the finclings from organisms in a context that were the intellec- tual product of a naturalistic outlook. He maintainer! a lively interest en cl goodwill toward his coworkers en cl behaved as a benevolent sponsor en cl guicle to them. With tireless energy en c! insight he was an early en c! successful innovator of what is now callecl technology transfer. Another vector for growth was always active, in spite of some limitations in his biochemical background! he sought, supported, en cl Earned from chemically skillecl coworkers. He consciously strove for analysis en cl unclerstancling of chemi- cal en c! physiological descriptions of soil processes, but his most notable successes were in fincling en cl describing valu- able microorganisms. That may be because most of his projects began with a broadly framed naturalistic question. In fact, he actecl as a sponsor not only for microbiology but almost as much for microbial biochemistry. He was impresser! by the scientific work of Cornelius Van Niel, which (like Kluyver's en cl Winogracisky's) took account of chemical processes going on in populations within a complex envi- ronment. So far as I know, his main contact with Van Niel's concepts came from the literature en cl through coworkers who followed that interest, Robert Starkey and Jackson Foster. He clearly wan tee! to encourage advances in this fielcI. Such a motivation showocl strongly in his grant efforts as well as in membership proposals for the National Academy of ret ~ sciences. What stancis out above all else is that coming from a moclest rural background, Selman Waksman felt grateful and with great humanity wanted to repay society by thoughtful en cl constructive contributions to science en cl health and, furthermore, by freely reporting them to the public.
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N A FAMILY MANAGED BENEVOLENCE 333 In 1951, as royalty income accumulatecI, Waksman estab- lishecl the Foundation for Microbiology by assigning half of his 20-percent personal royalties over for its support of research efforts to benefit society en cl humanity. Rene Dubos en cl Harry Eagle were invited to join as cofounders. Later he arranger! the formation of Waksman foundations in France, Italy, en cl Japan that couIcl expend patent income from the worIcl areas where it accrual for the support of scientific work in or near those areas. Askocl to serve as a trustee of the U.S. Foundation for Microbiology when Rene Dubos withdrew in 1959, I was fortunate to see firsthand! some of the impulses en c! insights that Selman Waksman appliecl in science administration. One soon realizecl that although he proucIly allowocl his name to be associates! with some of his benevolent actions, that pricle was accompanied by a realistic self-appraisal en cl true modesty. The charter program obliger! us to expenc! most of the annual income from the patents for streptomycin and neomycin in support of scientific endeavor. Our board of about five or six microbiologists usually met at Essex House on Central Park South in New York City for a congenial clinner en cl work session. At a typical trustee meeting the colleagues wouic! be joiner! by a few associates, such as for several years A. DucIley Watson, Waksman's financial Divisor (followed by Max H. Schwartz), and perhaps some secretarial help, besicles the boars! secretary. The group met in a short cocktail session at which members greeted en cl exchanged news with one another. Waksman, however eager he may have been to get on with the serious work of the founcia- tion, always proviclecl a goocl clinner with sumptuous choices. Afterward, as the conversations began to move into a con-
334 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS vivial mocle, he wouic! call for the business session. He trier! the experiment of conclucting part of the business before the clinner, but moclern life scheclules macle that almost impossible. A courteous en cl patient taskmaster, Waksman as presi- clent took the chair, hancling out the requests we were to consoler. He wouic! not indicate his personal judgments until all committee members hacl expressed theirs. Then he gave his own opinion en cl we wouIcl move toward a group decision. On those occasions when the other trustees clis- approved of an application he might show a generous inclination to offer a small token payment as a "consola- tion" award. So sometimes we wouic! have to insist that this was "sending the wrong signal" and only inviting a new moclifiecl request, although at other times that was exactly what we wantec! to get. The foundation hancIlecl scores of small grants, espe- cially those providing funds for purposes likely to be limited or omittec! from government research grants. It couic! help in funcling small conferences on specializecl topics, or for young scientists to travel to conferences. An abicling problem in Waksman's own experience hac! been the wish to present high-quality photographs of fungi and ascomycetes, etc. Therefore, he always noticecl when the researches involvecl little known organisms. A subsidy for biological illustrations in color couIcl often be raised, even en cl especially for little known microorganisms. Part of our funcis might be assigned to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the National Academy of Sciences, en cl sometimes to the Weizmann or Technion institutes in Israel for distribution in support of programs they conducted. Support was also given for a Waksman Lectureship in microbiology, administered by the National Academy of Sciences. For years we supported fellowship
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 335 programs en c! Latin-American professorships given by the American Society for Microbiology. Of course, a favorite intention of most clonors is to give "catalytic" support to a project that seems just to be emerg- ing from obscurity. I think this was at times accomplishecl by influential efforts of such members of the Board of Trustees as Harry Eagle, Kenneth Thimann, or Harlyn Halvorson to ferret out such opportunities. The Foundation for Microbiology throughout its history always maintainer! a strong family involvement. Selman Waksman remained president for its first 19 years, retiring in 1969. Byron Waksman was a trustee from 1968 en cl presi- clent from 1970 for thirty years before Frederick Neic~harcit took charge in 2001. In the meantime Deborah Waksman . ~ servect as trustee from 1957 until her cleath, respectful of the science but naturally paying more attention to the social en cl eclucational aspects of the research supported. At later points the grancichilciren have become trustees en cl officers of the Foundation. The trustees have also been augmenter! by one or two in number en cl in scope by appointment of clistinguishecl microbiologists en cl biologists. I believe it has continued to serve the Principles of its founder in a most enlightenecl way. It deserves mention that Deborah Waksman not only encouraged the scientific supports that her husband bestowed but also in her own name macle clonations on behalf of the arts. For a number of years she offered music fellowships at Douglass College, a women's branch of Rutgers, and made clonations to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Brancleis, en cl Haciassah. She arranged musicales in their family home for several years, en c! a high honor came when she sang for the Schola Cantorum.
336 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS SOME PERSONAL REMINISCENCES On one occasion I happened to arrive at a Foundation meeting well ah earl of the out-of-town members, so Waksman en c! I converser! a while, then at the Winslow I Tookoc! out upon Central Park in the growing clusk. Seeing the WolImann Skating Rink, a small lightecl rectangle, several blocks north, lightec! up with its evening crows! of enthusiastic skaters, I remarkocl that the WolImanns hacl "clone a great thing for New York City folks" in establishing the concession. Waksman seemec! exciter! by my remark en c! asker! me to point it out to him then subsiclecl into thoughtful reverie, peering long at the sight. I feel confident in claiming that he was, for Tong moments, impulsively thinking something like, "I'm foncl of New York, too, how couIcl I clo something like that?" That conception of his blencl of emotional en cl practical generosity is baser! on Tong acquaintance with his humanity. His wife, Deborah, was largely responsible for his affec- tion for New York and its culture. Her awareness of his position in science assured her commitment to dignity in their audiences with several heacis of state en cl royalty en cl other attentions of society. Nevertheless, on one occasion this cause seemed to be threatened. At the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm's Town Hall, in ~ 952, seated between the Swedish King and his brother, her formal gown got caught up on the King's chair and he sat down on a fold of her skirt. Discomfited up on a ciais! she couIcl harcIly con- verse with Prince Wilhelm about poetry until he, observing her nervousness, asker! what was troubling her. She con- fessecl to him her clifficulty. With a laugh he proceeclecl to speak quietly to his brother, the King. The latter then laughed, cliscreetly releaser! her skirt en c! sail! quietly to her, "Why didn't you poke me in the ribs?" Then he quickly charmed her by extolling the praises of the Nara shrines in Japan,
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 337 where the Waksmans were about to travel. This memoir from Deborah's own notes (D. Waksman, 1952) of the great ceremony suggests to me that the King's disarming humanity reassures! her with regarc! to her husbancl's similar clisregarc! of his own eminence. Selman often toIcl a story about quizzing a pharmacist from whom he, unrecognized, hac! purchaser! some bandages treated with tyrothricin (Dubos's antibiotic mixture), asking what that meclication was. Receiving the answer, "Some sort of coal-tar derivative," en c! amused, he came back with, "Is that so?" To this, the self-important response was, "This must be quite over your heacI!" On a number of occasions arounc! the time of his retire- ment in 1958 en cl after Selman phonecl from New Jersey to my laboratory in New York, inviting me to join him for a tiring en c! clinner. When I conic! accept, the two of us wouic! meet at an open cafe or bar in the Rockefeller Center or Times Square regions, start conversing, en cl then walk or taxi to another of his favorite midtown spots. I suppose these occasions were at times when his wife was away or otherwise occupied. Our relaxecl en cl congenial conversa- tions over a cocktail, rarely two, coverer! several topics in microbiology en cl what some of our colleagues were cloing in science. I might express some enthusiastic opinions about research topics en c! such work as I was familiar with at Coic! Spring Harbor, but probably typically tentative en cl cautious ones about people. Neither of us hacl much capacity for "small talk." Nor clo I think he hac! an agenda, such as souncling me out for a post in his institute, since I macle no secret of my satisfaction with my role at Rockefeller Institute at that time. Rather, I believe, he was moving out of his specialty toward the chemistry that he always acimirecI. Usually he would propose with obvious pleasure a dinner, perhaps at Lincly's on Broadway. Often he wouic! reminisce there in
338 B I O G RA P H I C A L EMOIRS a serious, logical, en c! unromantic way about his past. At such times one couIcl see clearly how straightforwarcIly en cl sensibly he viewocl his own life en cl science. Such logical "clown-to-earth" expression was characteris- tic of most of Waksman's scientific exchange. He gave the impression that what mattered were the practical ways en cl means of experiment en c! what conic! in fact be achieved. Some interpreted this as a sign that he clicl not care or perhaps know much about theory. This was not true, but microbiology at that time was almost necessarily an empirical science. A memorial en cl symposium in honor of Selman Waksman was hell! at the Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers on October 13, 1973, following his death on August 16th. Byron Waksman opened the session with brief messages from absent friencis en c! recollections of the quiet ironic natural humor of his father. Oliver Lampen, director of the institute, testi- fiecl warmly of the generous management mocles exerted by the great teacher. So clic! Max Tishier of Merck en c! Company, admiring the combination of iclealism en cl great practical sense that hacl enablecl Waksman to clevelop the effective interaction with industry that brought out the fruits of the scientific work. Sir Ernest Chain, chemist of the peni- cillin Nobel Prize winners, expressed a passionate European's recognition of the arduous career that hac! proclucec! so much. Honoring the hundredth anniversary of Selman Waksman's birth in the humble lost village in the steppes, a celebratory symposium was helcl in 1988 at Rutgers, at which several distinguished colleagues spoke on their perspectives of the status of microbiology, en c! his influence upon it. Selman Waksman was buried in the cemetery at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, after a more private ceremony. I treasure the message his lover! en c! clevotec! Bobili wrote me from
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 339 the depths of her Toss, in thanks for my comments about Selman in a letter to her at this time. She followocl him only about a year later. It is a comforting thought that the contributions of this great en cl pragmatic humanist en cl student of nature will endure for a long time in a changing worIcI. They will clo so, because they were baser! on assiduous work on some- thing as universal as the soil, en cl because he erected from it a technology that in his en cl other hands has given us so many of our magic medicines. Moreover, as a generous clis- coverer, he was able to inspire associates en cl to implant his icleas en cl vision to a talentecl family that clearly is continu- ing his altruistic traditions of serving the common goof! into the twenty-first century. I AM GRATEFUL to Byron Waksman and Douglas Eveleigh for reading this manuscript and for their generous help in improving its accuracy at some points. There are archives covering other aspects of Waksman's life. At Rutgers there is a Waksman Soil Microbiology Laboratory preserved at Martin Hall, Cook College, North Brunswick, New Tersey. Many family archives are held presently by Byron Waksman at 14 Cowdry Lane, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The National Academy of Sciences Library also maintains a Selman Waksman archival file. REFERENCES Dubos, R. T. 1939. Bactericidal effect of an extract of a soil bacillus on Gram-positive bacteria. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 40:311-12. 7. Exp. Med. 70:1-17. Dubos, R. T., and R. D. Hotchkiss. 1941. The production of bacteri- cidal substances by aerobic sporulating bacilli. 7. Exp. Med. 73:629-49. Hotchkiss, R. D., and R. T. Dubos. 1940. Bactericidal fractions from an aerobic sporulating bacillus. 7. Biol. Chem. 135:803-804. Waksman, D. 1952. Personal notes. Unpublished. (Personal com- munication from Byron Waksman about 1985~.
340 BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS Waksman, S. A. 1953. Sergei Nikolaevitch Winogradsky: The Story of a Great Bacteriologist. New Brunswick, N.T.: Rutgers University Press. Waksman, S. A. 1954. My Life with the Microbes. New York: Simon & Schuster. This autobiography provided many insights that I have used and interpreted for this article. It has been translated into several other languages and republished around the world. Waksman, S. A. 1964. The Brilliant and Tragic Life of Waldemar Haff~zine. New Brunswick, N.T.: Rutgers University Press. Waksman, S. A. 1966. Jacob G. Lipman, Agricultural Scientist and Hu- manitarian. New Brunswick, N.T.: Rutgers University Press. Woodruff, H. B. (ed.) . 1968. Scientific Contributions of Selman A. Waksman. New Brunswick, N.T.: Rutgers University Press. An 80th birthday jubilee volume that includes significant papers and listing of honors, awards, and publications up to that date.
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 1916 341 With R. E. Curtis. The actinomyces of the soil. Soil Sci. 1:99-134. Do fungi live and produce mycelium in the soil? Science 44:320-22. 1918 With R. E. Curtis. The occurrence of actinomycetes in the soil. Soil Sci. 6:309-19. Studies on the proteolytic enzymes of soil fungi and actinomycetes. 7. Bacteriol. 3:509-30. 1922 With J. S. Joffe. Microorganisms concerned in the oxidation of sulfur in the soil. II. Thiobacillus thiooxidans, a new sulfur-oxidizing organism isolated from the soil. 7. Bacteriol. 7:239-56. With J. S. Joffe. The chemistry of the oxidation of sulfur by micro- organisms to sulfuric acid and transformation of insoluble phos- phates into soluble forms. 7. Biol. Chem. 50:35-45. 1923 Microbiological analysis of soil as an index of soil fertility. IV. Ammonia accumulation (ammonification) . Soil Sci. 15:49-65. 1926 With C. E. Skinner. Microorganisms concerned in the decomposition of celluloses in the soil. J. Bacteriol. 12:57-84. 1927 With R. J. Dubos. Sur la nature des organismes qui decomposent la cellulose dans les terres arables. C. R. Acad. Sci. 185:1226-28. 1930 Chemical composition of peat and the role of microorganisms in its formation. Am. f. Sci. 19:32-54.
342 B I O G RA P H I C A L 1933 EMOIRS With M. C. Allen. Decomposition of polyuronides by fungi and bac- teria. I. Decomposition of pectin and pectic acid by fungi and formation of pectolytic enzymes. 7. Am. Chem. Soc. 55:3408-18. With M. Hotchkiss and C. L. Carey. Marine bacteria and their role in the cycle of life in the sea. II. Bacteria concerned in the cycle of nitrogen in the sea. Biol. Bull. 65:137-67. 1939 With J. W. Foster. The production of fumaric acid by molds belong- ing to the genus Rhizopus. f. Am. Chem. Soc. 61:127-35. 1940 On the classification of actinomycetes. 7. Bacteriol. 39:549-58. With H. B. Woodruff. The soil as a source of microorganisms antagonistic to disease-producing bacteria. 7. Bacteriol. 40:581-600. 1942 With M. Tishler. The chemical nature of actinomycin, an antimicrobial substance produced by Actinomyces antib~oticus. f. Biol. Chem. 142 :519-28. With H. B. Woodruff. Streptothricin, a new selective bacteriostatic and bactericidal agent, particularly active against gram-negative bacteria. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 49:207-10. 1944 Purification and antibacterial activity of fumigacin and clavacin. Science 99:220-21. With E. Bugle. Chaetomin, a new antibiotic substance produced by Chaetomium cochliodes. I. Formation and properties. 7. Bacteriol. 48:527-30. 1945 With A. Schatz. Streptomycin origin, nature, and properties. J. Am. Pharm. Assoc. 34:273-91. 1947 Antibiotics and tuberculosis. A microbiologic approach. 7. Am. Med. Assoc. 135:478-85.
S E L M A N A B RA H A M WA K S M A N 1949 343 With H. A. Lechevalier. Neomycin, a new antibiotic active against streptomycin-resistant bacteria, including tuberculosis organisms. Science 109:305-307. 1954 With W. A. Taber and L. C. Vining. Candicidin, a new antifungal antibiotic produced by Streptomyces virido;pavus. Antibiot. Chemother. 4:455-61. 1958 With L. H. Pugh, H. Lechevalier, and W. Braun. Effect of sulfocidin on transplantable tumors in mice. Antibiot. Ann. (1957-58~:972-76. 1975 The Antibiotic Era. A History of the Antibiotics and of Their Role in the Conquest of Infectious Diseases and in Other Fields of Human Endeavor. Tokyo: The Waksman Foundation of Japan, University of Tokyo Press (posthumous publication).