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river blindness
Society: ACSMain Category: ChemicalSub Category: MedicalDateCreated: 1987Merck & Co., Inc.RockvilleState: MDCountry: USAWebsite: Merck Research Labs

The story is so improbable it defies belief: a soil sample from Japan stops suffering in Africa. It starts when a scientist discovers a lowly bacterium near a golf course outside Tokyo. A team of scientists in the United States finds that the bacterium produces compounds that impede the activity of nematode worms. It is developed into a drug that wards off parasites in countless pets and farm animals, averting billions of dollars in losses worldwide.

Image Credit: Courtesy Wikicommons/현태웅 (CC BY-SA 4.0)Image Caption: A young man affected by onchocerciasis - river blindness
Discovery of Camptothecin and Taxol
Society: ACSMain Category: ChemicalSub Category: MedicalEra: 1950sDateCreated: 1966Research Triangle InstituteRockvilleState: MDCountry: USAWebsite:, Wani, Mansukh, Wall, Monroe

Monroe Wall, Mansukh Wani and colleagues at the Natural Products Laboratory of the Research Triangle Institute discovered and elucidated the structure Taxol®and camptothecin, two life-saving compounds for the treatment of cancer. These natural products kill cancer cells via unique mechanisms of action and in ways scientists had not previously imagined. The work of this research team led to the eventual development and marketing of drugs that have been approved for treatment of ovarian, breast, lung, and colon cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Image Credit: Courtesy ACSImage Caption: Mansukh C. Wani
Sir Alexander Fleming, Frs, the Discoverer of Penicillin
Society: ACSMain Category: ChemicalSub Category: MedicalEra: 1920-1929DateCreated: 1928-1945Alexander Fleming LaboratoryLondonCountry: UKWebsite:, Fleming, Alexander

The introduction of penicillin in the 1940s, which began the era of antibiotics, has been recognized as one of the greatest advances in therapeutic medicine. The discovery of penicillin and the initial recognition of its therapeutic potential occurred in the United Kingdom, but, due to World War II, the United States played the major role in developing large-scale production of the drug, thus making a life-saving substance in limited supply into a widely available medicine.

The plaque commemorating the event reads:

Image Caption: Sir Alexander Fleming, Frs, the Discoverer of PenicillinEra_date_from: 1928
Development of Diagnostic Test Strips
Society: ACSMain Category: ChemicalSub Category: MedicalEra: 1940sDateCreated: 1941ETHOS Science CenterElkhartState: INCountry: USAWebsite:, Free, Al, Free, Helen

It is difficult to recall a time when doctors and patients had trouble tracking the presence of glucose and other substances in urine and blood. Lack of sufficient measurement tools made it difficult to manage a host of diseases, including diabetes as well as other metabolic diseases and kidney and liver conditions. Today, self-management of these diseases is an easier process because of the development of diagnostic test strips by Alfred and Helen Free and their research team at Miles Laboratories.


The text of the plaque commemorating the development reads:

Image Caption: Advert for Ames home urine testing kit
Carbohydrate Metabolism - Carl and Gerty Cori
Society: ACSMain Category: ChemicalSub Category: MedicalEra: 1920-1929DateCreated: 1929Washington University School of MedicineSt. LouisState: MOCountry: USAWebsite:, Cori, Carl, Cori, Gerty

In brilliant collaboration, Carl and Gerty Cori studied how the body metabolizes glucose and advanced the understanding of how the body produces and stores energy. Their findings were particularly useful in the development of treatments for diabetes. In 1947 the Coris shared a Nobel Prize for their discoveries.


The plaque commemorating the event reads:

Image Caption: Biochemist Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori (1896-1957) and her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori (1896-1984) were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1947 for their work on how the human body metabolizes sugar.
Russell Marker and the Mexican Steroid Hormone Industry
Society: ACSMain Category: ChemicalSub Category: MedicalEra: 1930-1949DateCreated: 1938–1945Pond LaboratoryUniversity ParkState: PACountry: USAWebsite: Russell Marker

Steroid chemists often refer to the 1930s as the Decade of the Sex Hormones, when the molecular structures of certain sex hormones were determined and first introduced to medical practice as drugs. Russell Marker achieved the first practical synthesis of the pregnancy hormone, progesterone, by what now is known as the "Marker Degradation." Produced from starting material in a species of Mexican yam, Marker’s progesterone eventually became the preferred precursor in the industrial preparation of the anti-inflammatory drug cortisone.

Image Caption: Marker DegradationEra_date_from: 1938–1945
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