Florence Seibert

SEIBERT, Florence, American biochemist, 1897-1991. A pioneer of intravenous feeding of babies, and standardisation of tuberculosis diagnostic materials and procedures. Qualified at Yale in 1923, then worked at U. of Chicago until 1932. The rest of her career was spent at U. of Pennsylvania. She received a DSc in 1945 and was a professor from 1955, retired in 1959. A victim of polio herself, Florence investigated why some babies developed a fever when fed intravenously with milk protein. Some infants with arthritis and other severe problems had to be fed this way. She discovered that bacterial contamination occurred during the distillation process. Florence designed a new method of production that resulted in safe milk protein. Later work, in collaboration with Edmond Long, was isolation of the active substance that caused skin reactions in people with TB. Seibert created a test for diagnosis of TB, using a pure protein they had isolated in crystalline form from tuberculosis bacilli. This purification was feasible because she had learned the new technique of protein electrophoresis. The Garvan Medal was awarded to her in 1942 for this preparation of an international standard for Tuberculin Reagent. In 1963, after 5 years retirement in Florida, she decided to research any role that bacteria may have in cancer, attempting to isolate and eliminate any bacterial causative agents of cancer.

Biochemist Inventor

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