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Small Sample of Prontosil

  • 3.125 in. H x 1.875 in. diameter
    Glass, cork, Prontosil
  • On display in Making Modernity
  • Gift of Dr. Herbert T. Pratt
  • 2008.047.003


Prontosil was the first antibiotic drug available commercially to treat bacterial infections. Developed by the German company I.G. Farben, the effectiveness of the compound was not discovered until the early 1930s, when German chemist Gerhard Domagk conducted a series of experiments treating bacterial infections in mice. Domagk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1939. Prontosil was slow to gain wide acceptance until it was used to treat Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., for a throat infection. After news of his recovery was published, Prontosil was the most used and accepted treatment for bacterial infections until the discovery of penicillin.

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