Rachel Fuller Brown
Born Nov 23 1898 - Died Jan 14 1980
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, Rachel Fuller Brown in Albany and Elizabeth Lee Hazen in New York City 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.
Brown was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate education at Mount Holyoke College and later earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Chicago. She became a pioneer in encouraging women to study science.