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Allene Jeanes

JEANES, Allene, American chemist, 1906-1995. A chemist whose career was spent with various government agencies and departments, notably the National Institute of Health, National Bureau of Standards, and the Dept of Agriculture. Holder of several chemical patents. From 1941-76 Allene was with the Dept of Agriculture in regional labs, and specialised in production and characterisation of dextrans of microbial origins. From 1950-78 she periodically reviewed the bibliography of dextran literature, the last review involved 400 pages.  Medical emergencies in the Korean War necessitated the search for a blood plasma substitute. In a crash programme, her team perfected such a product (based on dextran). Jeanes was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Dept of Agriculture, the first time it had been awarded to a woman. Allene also developed many assay methods for carbohydrates and their metabolites. One methodology developed by her proved that the dextrans produced had structures that relate to the specific strain of bacteria used for production. She also found new applications for water-soluble microbial polysaccharides, for use as thickening and suspending or stabilising agents in solution. These results are much used in the food and drinks industries. Her team was honoured for developing xanthan, from cereal grain, as a new gum of commercial significance. A pioneer of the dextran and microbial gum industries in the USA. The Garvan Medal was awarded to her in 1956.


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