Preserving Health with Biotechnology

Early antibiotics commandeered natural substances produced by microorganisms, such as penicillin, to fight human diseases. With the advent of recombinant DNA technology in the late 1970s, scientists became able to make microbes and tumor cells produce something other than their own natural substances—substances that are natural to the human body but in critically short supply. Through genetic engineering, scientists have succeeded in synthetically producing hormones like insulin and erythropoietin, as well as a new hepatitis vaccine. And the list of such pharmaceuticals continues to grow.

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The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

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