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Dynamis

versión impresa ISSN 0211-9536

Resumen

BUD, Robert. Innovators, deep fermentation and antibiotics: promoting applied science before and after the Second World War. Dynamis [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.2, pp.323-341. ISSN 0211-9536.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4321/S0211-95362011000200004.

The historiography of penicillin has tended to overlook the importance of developing and disseminating know-how in fermentation technology. A focus on this directs attention to work before the war of a network in the US and Europe concerned with the production of organic acids, particularly gluconic and citric acids. At the heart of this network was the German-Czech Konrad Bernhauer. Other members of the network were a group of chemists at the US Department of Agriculture who first recognized the production possibilities of penicillin. The Pfizer Corporation, which had recruited a leading Department of Agriculture scientist at the end of the First World War, was also an important centre of development as well as of production. However, in wartime Bernhauer was an active member of the SS and his work was not commemorated after his death in 1975. After the war new processes of fermentation were disseminated by penicillin pioneers such as Jackson Foster and Ernst Chain. Because of its commercial context his work was not well known. The conclusion of this paper is that the commercial context, on the one hand, and the Nazi associations of Bernhauer, on the other, have submerged the significance of know-how development in the history of penicillin.

Palabras clave : Penicillin; organic acids; Konrad Bernhauer; know-how; applied science.

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