Medicine: The Healing Soil

When Rutgers University needed to save some money during the war winter of 1941-42, a budget official had a bright idea: Why not fire Selman Waksman, an obscure Ukrainian-born microbiologist who was getting $4,620 a year for "playing around with microbes in the soil?" That sort of fun & games, the moneyman pointed out, had never really paid off.

Fortunately for Rutgers — and for mankind — Dean William H. Martin of the College of Agriculture saved Dr. Waksman from the ax. Within two years Selman Waksman's "playing around with microbes" had paid...

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