Medicine: From a Japanese Garden

When Dr. Tadakatsu Tazaki, fired with ambition to find new antibiotics, visited Nagoya University (230 miles west of Tokyo) in 1952, one of the first things he did was to spoon up a sample of soil from the medical-compound garden. Hopefully, he labeled it K-2J, sent it to his ex-chief, Microbiologist Hamao Umezawa, at Tokyo University. There it became one of the 1,200 soil samples tested every year to see whether they harbor microbes capable of producing substances to kill other microbes.

Last week the payoff was reported at a two-day Manhattan medical...

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