|Was||Biologist Microbiologist Scientist|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||19 November 1910, New York City, USA|
|Death||4 July 1993, Pennsylvania, USA (aged 82 years)|
Gladys Lounsbury Hobby (November 19, 1910 – July 4, 1993), born in New York City, was an American microbiologist whose research played a key role in the development and understanding of antibiotics. Her work took penicillin from a laboratory experiment to a mass-produced drug during World War II.
Life and career
Hobby was born in the Washington Heights neighbourhood in New York City, one of two daughters of Theodore Y. Hobby and Flora R. Lounsbury. Hobby graduated from Vassar College in 1931. She earned her and Ph.D. in bacteriology from Columbia University in 1935. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the medical uses of nonpathogenic organisms.
Hobby worked for Presbyterian Hospital and the Columbia Medical School from 1934 to 1943, during which time she collaborated with Dr. Karl Meyer, a biochemist, and Dr. Martin Henry Dawson, a clinician and associate professor of medicine, on determining diseases caused by hemolytic streptococci and later on refining penicillin. During this time, Hobby also worked for Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Hobby left Columbia University in 1944 to work for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in New York where she researched streptomycin and other antibiotics.
In 1959, Hobby left Pfizer to specialize in chronic infectious diseases as chief of research at the Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange, New Jersey. She also served as an assistant clinical research professor in public health at Cornell University Medical College. In 1972 she founded the monthly publication, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and continued to edit it for eight years. She retired from her main career in 1977. In retirement Hobby wrote over 200 articles, working as a consultant and freelance science writer. She also published a book, Penicillin: Meeting the Challenge, in 1985, in which she chronicled penicillin's journey and compared it to the Manhattan project in its importance to the war effort.
Hobby died of a heart attack in 1993 at her home in a Pennsylvania retirement community.
Key contributions and impact
Hobby is recognized for her work in creating a form of penicillin that was effective on human hosts. In 1940, Hobby and her colleagues, Dr. Karl Meyer and Dr. Martin Henry Dawson, wrote to Howard Florey and Ernst Chain to procure a sample of penicillin. They naively decided to make some penicillin and soon became experts in the fermentation process, and began refining it into a drug. Hobby, Meyer, and Dawson performed the first tests of penicillin on humans in 1940 and 1941, before presenting at the American Society for Clinical Investigation. They discovered that penicillin was a powerful germ-killer that reduced the severity of infectious diseases and made procedures such as organ transplantation and open-heart surgery possible. Their findings received media coverage, which helped attract funding from the United States Government to mass-produce penicillin during World War II, saving the lives of many soldiers.
At Pfizer, Hobby did extensive early work on Terramycin and Viomycin, used for the treatment of tuberculosis.