World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Albert Schatz (scientist)

Albert Schatz
Albert Schatz
Born Albert Israel Schatz
(1920-02-02)2 February 1920
Norwich, Connecticut
Died 17 January 2005(2005-01-17) (aged 84)
Philadelphia, USA
Residence USA
Citizenship USA
Fields microbiology
science education
Institutions Brooklyn College
National Agricultural College in Doylestown
University of Chile
Washington University
Temple University
Alma mater Rutgers University
Known for discoverer of streptomycin
Spouse Vivian Schatz (née Rosenfeld, married 1945)
Children Linda Schatz
Diane Klein

Albert Israel Schatz (2 February 1920 – 17 January 2005) was an American microbiologist and science educator, best known as a codiscoverer of the antibiotic, streptomycin. Schatz graduated from Rutgers University in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in soil microbiology, and received his doctorate from Rutgers in 1945.

In 1943, as a 23-year-old postgraduate research assistant working in the university's soil microbiology laboratory under the direction of tubercle bacillus, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). In three and a half months he had isolated two strains of bacterium that stopped the growth of tubercle bacillus and several other penicillin-resistant bacteria in a petri dish.[1][2]


  • Personal life 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Streptomycin controversy 3
  • Awards, honors and tributes 4
  • Legacy 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8

Personal life

Schatz was born in Norwich, Connecticut, and raised on a poor, isolated Passaic, New Jersey farm by his Jewish Russian émigré father and English mother. His initial interest in soil microbiology stemmed from his intention to become a farmer. Seeing workers being assaulted by the authorities during the Depression prompted him to lifelong socialism and humanitarianism. He and Vivian Rosenfeld, a student at New Jersey College for Women, were married in March 1945 and they had two daughters, Linda and Diane.[2][3] The couple were enthusiastic naturalists and environmentalists and they enjoyed the wilds of Vermont. Schatz was interested in the paranormal and alternative medicine (therapeutic touch). He campaigned against the fluoridation of drinking water,[3] argued for a "proteolysis-chelation theory" of tooth decay[3][4] and proposed a novel theory for the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs.[3]

Academic career

A fellow postgraduate student, Doris Ralston, described Schatz as "A poverty-stricken, brilliant student who worked with a burning intensity." He graduated from conscripted, and worked as a bacteriologist at a military hospital in Florida until he was discharged due to back problems.[2]

On his return to Waksman's lab in 1943, Schatz offered to take on the search for an antibiotic effective against tubercle bacillus (the bacterium that causes TB) and Gram-negative bacteria responsible for other penicillin-resistant diseases. Within three and a half months he had identified two related strains of bacteria in the phylum Actinomycetes which stopped the growth of tubercle bacillus and several Gram-negative bacteria. One strain came from a mouth swab from a healthy duck, the other from soil outside his lab. He named the antibiotic derived from these bacteria "streptomycin."[2]

Toxicity tests, animal trials and early clinical trials, for which Schatz produced the streptomycin, were conducted by Mayo Clinic, and by 1944 large clinical trials conducted by Merck in the UK and USA had proven streptomycin's effectiveness against TB, bubonic plague, cholera, typhoid fever and other penicillin-resistant diseases.[2]

After leaving Rutgers in 1946, Schatz worked at Brooklyn College, and the National Agricultural College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He was a professor at the University of Chile from 1962 to 65, Professor of Education at Washington University from 1965 to 69, and Professor of Science Education at Temple University from 1969 to 80. Schatz published three textbooks and over 700 scientific papers.[1][3][5]

Streptomycin controversy

Schatz was lead author, with Waksman, on the paper that first reported the discovery of streptomycin, and the second author, with Waksman, on the streptomycin patent application. At Waksman's request, in 1946 Schatz signed over his right to royalties from the US streptomycin patent to the Rutgers Research and Endowment Foundation, and later signed over his foreign rights. He said he agreed to this so as to make streptomycin available as readily and inexpensively as possible, and he understood that the foundation, also, was to receive no profit from the discovery.[2]

Schatz began to feel that Waksman was playing down his (Schatz's) role in the discovery, and taking all the credit and recognition for their achievement. In 1949 it came out that Waksman, contrary to his public pronouncements, had a private agreement with the foundation giving him 20% of the royalties – which by then had amounted to $350,000 ($3,469,200 today) – so, in March 1950, Schatz sued Waksman and the foundation for a share of the royalties and recognition of his role in the discovery of streptomycin.[2]

An out-of-court settlement awarded Schatz $120,000 for the foreign patent rights, and 3% of the royalties, representing about $15,000 per annum for several years. Waksman conceded in court that Schatz, "is entitled to credit legally and scientifically as co-discoverer of streptomycin." Schatz was never again able to get work in a top-level microbiology lab.[2][6]

In October 1952, it was announced that Waksman would be awarded that year's Nobel prize for physiology or medicine for the discovery of streptomycin. After receiving letters from the vice-president of the agricultural college where Schatz was working at the time, and others, the Nobel committee's wording of the actual award on 12 December 1952 was for, "ingenious, systematic and successful studies of the soil microbes that led to the discovery of streptomycin" rather than, "for the discovery of streptomycin" as the original announcement had said.[2]

When Milton Wainwright from Sheffield University arrived at Rutgers and interviewed faculty members for his 1990 book on antibiotics, Miracle Cure, asking questions about Schatz, it piqued the curiosity of some professors, who made their own inquiries and spoke with Schatz. Convinced that he had been the victim of an injustice, a group of professors, including Karl Maramorosch and Douglas Eveleigh, began to lobby for Schatz's rehabilitation, culminating in the 1994 awarding of the Rutgers University Medal, the university's highest honor, to Schatz.[2]

Awards, honors and tributes

Schatz received honorary degrees from Brazil, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic. On the 50th anniversary of the discovery of streptomycin, In 1994, he was awarded the Rutgers University Medal. The New York Times placed his and Waksman's 1948 streptomycin patent in the top 10 discoveries of the 20th century. The university has made Schatz's basement lab into a museum documenting his and other antibiotic discoveries made at the college.[5]


Albert Schatz's archives were donated to the Temple University Library.

See also


  1. ^ a b Margalit Fox (2 February 2005). "Albert Schatz, Microbiologist, Dies at 84". New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Veronique Mistiaen (2 November 2002). "Time, and the great healer". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Milton Wainwright (4 February 2005). "Albert Schatz: Co-discoverer of streptomycin". The Independent. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Schatz A., Martin J. J. (September 1962). "The proteolysis-chelation theory of dental caries". J Am Dent Assoc 65: 368–75.  
  5. ^ a b "Albert Schatz, co-discoverer of streptomycin, dies at 84". Rutgers Focus. Rutgers University Relations. 21 February 2005. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Dr. Schatz Wins 3% of Royalty; Named Co-Finder of Streptomycin; Key Figures in Streptomycin Discovery Suit". New York Times. 30 December 1950. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "'"Author Query for 'A.Schatz.  

Further reading

  • Kingston W (July 2004). "Streptomycin, Schatz v. Waksman, and the balance of credit for discovery". J Hist Med Allied Sci 59 (3): 441–62.  
  • Wainwright M (April 2005). "A Response to William Kingston, "Streptomycin, Schatz versus Waksman, and the balance of credit for discovery"". J Hist Med Allied Sci 60 (2): 218–20; discussion 221.  
  • Peter Pringle (16 July 2013). Experiment Eleven: Dark Secrets Behind the Discovery of a Wonder Drug. Bloomsbury USA.  
  • Inge Auerbacher (9 March 2006). Finding Dr. Schatz. iUniverse.  
  • Milton Wainwright (1990). Miracle Cure: The Story of Penicillin and the Golden Age of Antibiotics. Basil Blackwell.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.