--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
July 14, 2011
Contact: Tatiana Brailovskaya, Director of Communications, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, (207) 633-9633; firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Eric Lax on Scientific Credit and the Lifesaving Discovery of Penicillin: Bigelow Laboratory’s July 26 Café Scientifique
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME –Journalist, author, and biographer Eric Lax will be the guest speaker at Bigelow Laboratory’s fifth Café Scientifique of the 2011 summer season at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26. The author of The Mold in Dr. Florey’s Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle, Lax will lead a discussion about the intricate and at times conflicting paths that led to the development of penicillin, and the challenges inherent in assigning credit for major scientific discoveries.
In 1928, Scottish bacteriologist Dr. Alexander Fleming first observed the antibacterial effect of penicillin mold in his London laboratory. Fourteen years later, Howard Florey, Ernst Chain, and Norman Heatley led a team of Oxford University researchers in developing penicillin into the first effective antibiotic, resulting in “the introduction of the most important family of drugs of the twentieth century.”
“But credit for penicillin is largely misplaced,” Lax says. “Why this happened, why it took fourteen years to develop penicillin, and how it was finally done is a fascinating story of quirky individuals, missed opportunities, medical prejudice, brilliant science, shoestring research, wartime pressures, misplaced modesty, conflicts between mentors and their protégés, and the passage of medicine from one era to the next.”
In his The New York Times review, Simon Winchester calls The Mold in Dr. Florey’s Coat “...perhaps the most exciting tale of science since the apple dropped on Newton's head.”
Lax’s most recent book is Faith Interrupted: A Spiritual Journey, published by Knopf in April 2010. Among other books, Lax is also author of Life and Death on 10 West, and Woody Allen: A Biography. His writing has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Life, The Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire.
Bigelow Laboratory Café Scientifique gatherings are held every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. through August 30 in the Boothbay Harbor Opera House, 86 Townsend Avenue in Boothbay Harbor. The talks are free and open to the public, with beer, wine, and sodas available for purchase. The complete 2011 summer Café Scientifique program is posted on the Laboratory’s website (www.bigelow.org); subscriptions to regular email updates about Bigelow Laboratory are available at www.bigelow.org/news/e_news.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences conducts research ranging from microbial oceanography -- examining the biology in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale ocean processes that affect global environmental conditions. Recognized as a leader in Maine’s emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory is spurring significant economic growth in the state through construction of a major Ocean Science and Education Campus in East Boothbay. Photo by Patricia Williams. Courtesy of Eric Lax. ####