Seibert, Florence B. | Bacteria in Tumors.

  • Presentation copy of a rare offprint by the biochemist who was the first to produce purified tuberculin for use in studying and treating tuberculosis. Inscribed by the author on the upper wrapper, “Best wishes, Florence B. Seibert”. In this research paper Seibert investigates the presence of bacteria in tumors and the best methods for isolating and identifying them.

    Biochemist Florence Seibert (1897-1991) was a productive and highly regarded scientist who worked in a number of areas and received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago during the early 1920s she made her first breakthrough, “a method of eliminating bacterial contamination that was known to occur during the creation of solutions meant for vaccinations and injections. Patients could experience sudden fevers or illness during or after an injection or intravenous treatment. Such afflictions, Seibert discovered, were most often caused by bacterial contamination of the distilled water used to make the solutions. She was able to eliminate this contamination using a special apparatus and procedure she created for this purpose. This would be a great boon later not only for administering drugs but also for making blood transfusions safer during surgery” (Lemelson-MIT biography).

    But Seibert’s most significant work was on tuberculosis, particularly her improvements to Robert Koch’s skin test for the infection. “Koch’s method was notoriously inaccurate, for the evaporated solution used in the test contained numerous impurities. Even people with a serious case of tuberculosis sometimes failed to get a positive test. Seibert worked for ten years on methods of isolating pure tuberculin by filtration, by using a guncotton membrane of a specific thickness. The result was a creamy white powder which was the purified protein from the tuberculosis bacillus, known as PPD. Never patenting the process (which would have made her rich), she furnished the National Tuberculosis Association with a large quantity of pure tuberculin” (Ogilvie, Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, p. 1173).

  • ...Reprinted from Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences Series II, Volume 34, No. 6, Pages 504-533. June 1972. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1972.

    Octavo. 32-page offprint, wire-stitched, original white wrappers printed in black. Black and white illustrations from photomicrographs throughout. Orange ink and pencil underlining to two sentences on page 531. Yellow dampstain to the upper wrapper, lighter dampstain affecting the tail of the spine and edges of the wrappers. Minor creasing along the wrapper edges. A very good copy.