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Nystatin
Beauty and Brains

While we tend to remember Hedy Lamarr as a beautiful actress, she was also an inventor. In 1942, Lamarr received a patent for a system of frequency-hopping, which allowed radios to guide torpedoes without interference.

Long-distance romantic relationships are often troubled, but Rachel Fuller Brown and Elizabeth Lee Hazen proved that long-distance professional relationships can yield productive results. Both Brown and Hazen worked for the New York State Department of Health in the 1940s, but Hazen was stationed in New York City and Brown was in Albany. Despite the miles, Brown and Hazen collaborated on the first successful fungus-fighting drug.

In New York City, Hazen would test soil samples to see if any of the organisms within would respond to fungi. If there was activity, Hazen would mail the jar of soil to Brown, who would work to extract the agent in the soil that was causing the reaction. Once Brown had found the active ingredient, it went back in the mail to Hazen, who'd check it against the fungi again. If the organism killed the fungi, it would be evaluated for toxicity. Most of the samples proved too toxic for human use, but finally Brown and Hazen happened upon an effective fungus-killing drug in 1950. They named it Nystatin, after New York state. The medication, now sold under a variety of trade names, cures fungal infections that affect the skin, vagina and intestinal system. It's also been used on trees with Dutch elm disease and on artwork affected by mold.

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