Senator SAMUEL D. THOMPSON
District 12 (Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean)
Senators Gopal and Diegnan
Designates Streptomyces griseus as New Jersey State Microbe.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act designating Streptomyces griseus as the New Jersey State Microbe, and supplementing chapter 9A of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.
Whereas, Streptomyces griseus is a soil-based microorganism that was first discovered in 1916 by Dr. Selman Waksman and Dr. Roland Curtis; and
Whereas, Soon after its discovery, the microbe drew international acclaim for its groundbreaking use as an antibiotic; and
Whereas, In 1943, a research team from Rutgers University, led by Dr. Albert Schatz and Dr. Selman Waksman, used Streptomyces griseus to create streptomycin, the world’s first antibiotic for tuberculosis; and
Whereas, The original discovery paper for streptomycin, entitled “Streptomycin, a Substance Exhibiting Antibiotic Activity Against Gram-Positive and Gram-Negative Bacteria,” was co-authored by Dr. Waksman, Dr. Schatz, and Elizabeth Bugie, and published in the Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine; and
Whereas, After clinical trials showed that streptomycin cured ailing tuberculosis patients, Merck & Company, a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, quickly made the drug available to the public; and
Whereas, Prior to this discovery, tuberculosis was one of the deadliest diseases in human history and the second leading cause of death in the United States; and
Whereas, Within ten years of streptomycin’s release, tuberculosis mortality rates in the U.S. fell to a historic low, with only 9.1 tuberculosis-related deaths per 100,000 people in 1955 compared to the rate of 194 deaths per 100,000 people in 1900; and
Whereas, According to a June 1947 New York Times article, streptomycin had “become one of the two wonder drugs of medicine” and offered the “promise to save more lives than were lost in both World Wars”; and
Whereas, Dr. Selman Waksman was later awarded a Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 1952 for his work in discovering Streptomyces griseus, creating streptomycin, and curing tuberculosis; and
Whereas, Streptomyces griseus and streptomycin were two of the most consequential discoveries in the fields of biology and pharmacology during the twentieth century; and
Whereas, The unlocking of the antibiotic potential of Streptomyces griseus is a testament to the hard work and tenacity that changed the world; and
Whereas, Few people are aware of the enduring social value of Schatz and Waksman’s research, as penicillin has overshadowed streptomycin as the twentieth century’s greatest antibiotic discovery; and
Whereas, It is altogether fitting and proper to renew the public’s awareness of this historic achievement, and New Jersey’s role in combating tuberculosis, by designating Streptomyces griseus as the official microbe of the State of New Jersey; now, therefore,
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Streptomyces griseus is designated as the New Jersey State Microbe.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill designates Streptomyces griseus as the official microbe of the State of New Jersey. Streptomyces griseus is a soil-based microorganism that was discovered in 1916 and later celebrated for its groundbreaking use as an antibiotic.
Streptomyces griseus drew international headlines in 1943 after a research team from Rutgers University, led by Dr. Albert Schatz and Dr. Selman Waksman, used the microbe to create streptomycin, the world’s first antibiotic for tuberculosis. Prior to this discovery, tuberculosis was one of the deadliest diseases in human history; throughout the early 1900s, tuberculosis was the second leading cause of death in the United States. However, within 10 years of its release, tuberculosis-related deaths dropped to an all-time low due to the widespread use of streptomycin. Dr. Waksman was later awarded a Nobel Prize in 1952 for his role in leading the discovery.
Although Streptomyces griseus and streptomycin were two of the most consequential discoveries of the twentieth century, few people remember these historical accomplishments or the distinguished New Jerseyans who helped cure the deadliest disease of their age. Designating Streptomyces griseus as the official microbe of New Jersey will raise public awareness of this great achievement.