Elizabeth Lee Hazen
Born Aug 24 1885 - Died Jun 24 1975
Nystatin and Method of Producing It
Nystatin (Antifungal / Antibiotic)
Patent Number(s) 2,797, 183
The world's first useful antifungal antibiotic, nystatin, was developed through a long-distance scientific collaboration.
Working as researchers for the New York State Department of Health, Elizabeth Lee Hazen in New York City and Rachel Fuller Brown in Albany shared tests and samples through the U.S. mail. To Hazen's single-minded pursuit of an antifungal antibiotic, Brown added the skills needed to identify, characterize, and purify the various substances produced by culturing bacteria found in hundreds of soil samples.
The antibiotic they developed, named 'nystatin' for the New York State Department of Health, was first introduced in practical form in 1954 following Food and Drug Administration approval.
Not only did it cure many disfiguring and disabling fungal infections of the skin, mouth, throat, and intestinal tract, but it could be combined with antibacterial drugs to balance their effects.
Uses for nystatin have been as varied as treating Dutch elm disease to rescuing water-damaged works of art from molds.
Brown and Hazen donated all nystatin royalties-more than $13 million by the time the patent expired-to academic science through the nonprofit Research Corporation.
Born in rural Mississippi, Hazen was orphaned at the age of three and raised by relatives. She earned a B.S. at the Mississippi State College for Women then taught school and served as an Army diagnostic laboratory technician during World War I. After the war she won an advanced degree in bacteriology from Columbia University, becoming one of its first women doctoral candidates.