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Rebecca Lancefield

LANCEFIELD, Rebecca, née Craighill, American microbiologist, 1895-1981. Her PhD from Columbia U., was in immunology and bacteriology. Throughout her career she was associated with zoological research at the Columbia Marine Biology Lab (from 1920), but by 1926 she was also involved with the hospital at the Rockefeller Institute. Eventually she became Professor of Microbiology at the Rockefeller Institute. Rebecca devised a classification scheme for the various types of streptococci. It was demonstrated that the important pathogens responsible for diseases, such as scarlet fever, sore throats, erysipelas, and other nasty streptococci  were all members of group A in her classification system.  Instead  of each disease having a specific streptococcus as causative agent, they are all variants of group A streps. The classification detailed at least 60 types of group A organisms. Rebecca was given the Lasker Award and membership of the NAS, for this work. Identification of the pathogens in this large group of related diseases allowed more effective treatment. Her laboratory became the world reference source for strains of streptococci and the antisera used to identify them. Group A streptococci are still grouped according to the Lancefield Classification.


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