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The discovery of streptomycin

By | August 1, 2007

Selman Waksman's exact replica of his notes on experiments, showing the antagonistic properties of streptomycin against microorganisms, (April 1943) Credit: Courtesy of Terry Sharrer" />Selman Waksman's exact replica of his notes on experiments, showing the antagonistic properties of streptomycin against microorganisms, (April 1943) Credit: Courtesy of Terry Sharrer The mass manufacture of penicillin during World War II stimulated urgent interest in other medicinally important

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The Dreyer Peptide and Protein Sequencer

By | July 1, 2007

Credit: Courtesy of Alan Hawk / Historical Collections National Museum of Health and Medicine" /> Credit: Courtesy of Alan Hawk / Historical Collections National Museum of Health and Medicine As biochemists during the 1970s delved into the protein chemistry of cell signaling, cycling, and adhesion, they ran into two major obstacles: getting enough purified material for some proteins, and the low molecular weights of others. Interferon, for example, was so difficult to purify that it

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Nirenberg's Genetic Code Chart, 1961-66

By | June 1, 2007

On May 27, 1961, Heinrich Matthaei, a postdoc working with NIH scientist Marshal Nirenberg, placed synthetic polyuracil RNA into 20 test tubes to see what it would produce. Each tube contained cytoplasmic extract from Escherichia coli and a specific radiolabeled amino acid. Ribosomes from the tube containing labeled phenylalanine came back 'hot,' and the world was a step closer to understanding the genetic code. CLICK HERE for a larger version of this image

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Tuberculin, 1890

By | May 1, 2007

A vial of Koch?s Tuburculin from 1895 resides at Charité Hospital, Berlin. Credit: Courtesy of Terry Sharrer" />A vial of Koch?s Tuburculin from 1895 resides at Charité Hospital, Berlin. Credit: Courtesy of Terry Sharrer Robert Koch (1843?1910), who isolated Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 1882 and proved that it caused tuberculosis, announced at a medical congress in Berlin eight years later that he had developed a substance capable of preventing the growth of the tub

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Fifty Years with Interferons

By | April 1, 2007

In 1981 Sidney Pestka and colleagues at Roche purified recombinant human leukocyte interferon from bacteria setting the stage for its structure elucidation. Credit: COURTESY OF SIDNEY PESTKA / PBL BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES" />In 1981 Sidney Pestka and colleagues at Roche purified recombinant human leukocyte interferon from bacteria setting the stage for its structure elucidation. Credit: COURTESY OF SIDNEY PESTKA / PBL BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES In 1957, Alick Isaacs and Jean Lindenmann, b

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Leitz Inverted Microscope, Circa 1958

By | March 1, 2007

Credit: COURTESY OF TERRY SHARRER" /> Credit: COURTESY OF TERRY SHARRER When Leonard Hayflick began his cell culture work at the Wistar Institute in the 1950s, the field was facing a nagging problem. Culture flasks were so big, that microscope objective lenses couldn't come reasonably close to the subject. Hayflick told his Leitz sales representative about the problem, and the sales rep returned with an inverted chemist's microscope popular among crystallographers. With slight modifi

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The Yale Embryo, circa 1934

By | February 1, 2007

Elizabeth Ramsey (1906-1993) discovered a 14 day-old embryo in 1934 that helped launch her career. Credit: © CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON" />Elizabeth Ramsey (1906-1993) discovered a 14 day-old embryo in 1934 that helped launch her career. Credit: © CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON In 1934 Elizabeth Ramsey a recent Yale graduate was performing an autopsy on a young woman at New Haven Hospital when she discovered a tiny blob that would help define her career. The blob, an appar

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The First Black 6: C57BL/6J

By | January 1, 2007

The black 6 mouse, above, was developed around 1920 by Clarence Cook Little (1881-1971), below. Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES" />The black 6 mouse, above, was developed around 1920 by Clarence Cook Little (1881-1971), below. Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES As a boy, Clarence Cook Little kept mice as pets, but his hobby became serious inquiry when he began studying Mendelian inheritance of mouse coat color under William Castle at Harvard Univer

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Mr. Cycle: An Automated PCR Prototype

By | December 1, 2006

A 1985 prototype of a semi-automated thermal cycler, hot and cold water baths not included. Credit: Courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution" />A 1985 prototype of a semi-automated thermal cycler, hot and cold water baths not included. Credit: Courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution The "aha" moment and initial experiments in 1983 through which Kary Mullis developed the idea of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are a well trodden story.1 While Mullis says he immediately realized PCR?s pote

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The Discovery of Estrogen Receptor β

By | November 1, 2006

In situ hybridization showing ERβ expression in prostatic epithelium (near left) and ovarian granulosa cells (far left).  Below is a notebook page describing the phenotypes of ERβ knockout mice. Credit: IN SITU IMAGES: © 1996 THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES / NOTEBOOK: COURTESY OF JAN-ǺKE GUSTAFSSON" />In situ hybridization showing ERβ expression in prostatic epithelium (near left) and ovarian granulosa cells (far left).  Below is a notebook page describing the phenotyp

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