Experiment Eleven by Peter Pringle


10 Critic Reviews

This is not the first time the story has been told but it is the fullest account.


In 1943, Albert Schatz, a young Rutgers College Ph.D. student, worked on a wartime project in microbiology professor Selman Waksman's lab, searching for an antibiotic to fight infections on the front lines and at home. In his eleventh experiment on a common bacterium found in farmyard soil, Schatz discovered streptomycin, the first effective cure for tuberculosis, one of the world's deadliest diseases.

As director of Schatz's research, Waksman took credit for the discovery, belittled Schatz's work, and secretly enriched himself with royalties from the streptomycin patent filed by the pharmaceutical company Merck. In an unprecedented lawsuit, young Schatz sued Waksman, and was awarded the title of "co-discoverer" and a share of the royalties. But two years later, Professor Waksman alone was awarded the Nobel Prize. Schatz disappeared into academic obscurity.

For the first time, acclaimed author and journalist Peter Pringle unravels the intrigues behind one of the most important discoveries in the history of medicine. The story unfolds on a tiny college campus in New Jersey, but its repercussions spread worldwide. The streptomycin patent was a breakthrough for the drug companies, overturning patent limits on products of nature and paving the way for today's biotech world. As dozens more antibiotics were found, many from the same family as streptomycin, the drug companies created oligopolies and reaped big profits. Pringle uses firsthand accounts and archives in the United States and Europe to reveal the intensely human story behind the discovery that started a revolution in the treatment of infectious diseases and shaped the future of Big Pharma.


About Peter Pringle

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Peter Pringle is a veteran British foreign correspondent and the author of several nonfiction books, including Food, Inc. and Those Are Real Bullets, Aren't They? He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the Nation.
Published May 8, 2012 by Walker Books. 288 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Experiment Eleven
All: 10 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 0


Mar 01 2012

A gripping account of academic politics and the birth of the pharmaceutical industry.

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Reviewed by Peter Forbes on Jun 29 2012

This is not the first time the story has been told but it is the fullest account.

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Publishers Weekly

Mar 05 2012

Pringle skillfully relates an important tale of a life-saving scientific discovery tarnished by egotism and injustice.

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WSJ online

Reviewed by Matt Ridley on May 04 2012

Peter Pringle's new book "Experiment Eleven" documents a shocking scandal in the history of medicine...

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Financial Times

Reviewed by Andrew Jack on Apr 14 2012

Nevertheless, he has made a useful popular addition to a necessary rebalancing of history.

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Reviewed by Christopher Silvester on Apr 27 2012

...an elegant thriller about academic larceny and he explains the minutiae of scientific experiments with as much clarity as he elucidates the human drama.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Reviewed by Marc Parrish on May 31 2012

Pringle's book may help to correct the historical record.

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Science News

Reviewed by Allison Bohac on Jun 30 2012

He opens up questions about ethics in research, and about who really deserves recognition in the team effort of scientific discovery.

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ForeWord Reviews

Reviewed by Claire Posner on May 31 2012

Experiment Eleven offers readers a comprehensive explanation of the scientific and legal ramifications of the streptomycin controversy...

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New Scientist

Reviewed by Tiffany O'Callaghan on Apr 27 2012

Experiment Eleven is a riveting and heartbreaking book...

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