Article ID: CBB340910009

Miracle near 34th street: Wartime Penicillin Research at St John’s University, NY (2017)


In the spring of 1944 Sister Marie Immaculate was awarded a Master of Science degree for research on penicillin which she had conducted at St John’s University in Brooklyn, New York. She gave her motivation for undertaking research in this topic as wishing to fulfil her patriotic duty by participating in the quest towards making penicillin more readily available to all who needed it. It is possible that contemporary media reports suggesting that the power of penicillin was comparable to a miracle cure contributed to her interest in the subject at the time. In practical terms, her work was to have no bearing in increasing the availability of penicillin, but simply by becoming engaged in this endeavour, it could be argued that she was enacting the beliefs underlying her religious calling. This article explores those beliefs, and proposes an ideological synergy between science and religion in respect to Sister Marie Immaculate’s faith in penicillin’s potential to cure the world’s ills.

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Authors & Contributors
Victoria Bell
Santesmases, María Jesús
Bud, Robert
Kirchhelle, Claas
Landas, Marc
Schlett, James
History and Technology
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
History of Psychology
Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
University of British Columbia Press
Rutgers University Press
Potomac Books
Palgrave Macmillan
Oxford University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Professional qualifications; status; remuneration
Drug resistance
Waksman, Selman Abraham
May, Rollo
Abel, John Jacob
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
18th century
United States
New York (U.S.)
Niagara Falls
Baltimore (Maryland, U.S.)
Coimbra University Hospital
Pfizer, Inc.
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Medical Research Council (Great Britain)

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