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Silent VictoriesThe History and Practice of Public Health in Twentieth Century America$
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John W. Ward and Christian Warren

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195150698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150698.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 October 2019

A Brief Romance with Magic Bullets: René Dubos at the Dawn of the Antibiotic Era

A Brief Romance with Magic Bullets: René Dubos at the Dawn of the Antibiotic Era

(p.44) 3 A Brief Romance with Magic Bullets: René Dubos at the Dawn of the Antibiotic Era
Silent Victories

Jill E. Cooper

Oxford University Press

In 1939, René Dubos announced his discovery of tyrothricin, the first clinically useful antibiotic. Convinced of the power and efficiency of chemotherapeutic wonder drugs, Dubos abandoned his immunological approach to infectious disease in favor of one that privileged cure over prevention. But by 1941 his enthusiasm waned in light of tyrothricin's limitations, and he changed from champion to critic of chemotherapeutic agents. His admonitions against the overzealous use of antibiotics, however, went largely unheeded. As a result, many of his predictions regarding the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains have been realized in modern medicine. This chapter traces Dubos' research at the Rockefeller Institute that led to the discovery of tryothricin, and his rapid disaffection with over-reliance upon antibiotics.

Keywords:   René Jules Dubos, antibiotics, tyrothricin, Rockefeller Institute, microbiology, New Jersey Agricultural Station, Oswald T. Avery, Selman Waksman

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