The University Record, January 8, 2001

Waksman Foundation moves to U-M; Neidhardt named to lead it

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

The Waksman Foundation for Microbiology, formerly called the Foundation for Microbiology, has a new home on the U-M campus. The 50-year-old foundation moved its offices on Jan. 1. Frederick C. Neidhardt, the F.G. Novy Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology, is the foundation’s new president.

Selman A. Waksman received the 1952 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for his discovery of the antibiotics streptomycin, actinomycin and streptothrycin. He established the Foundation for Microbiology in 1951 with a portion of his royalties from patents on these antibiotics. Initially, the foundation supported publications and provided seed money for new research in microbiology.

In recent years, the foundation has supported critical areas viewed as underfunded by other agencies, including the education and training of young scientists, use of contemporary communications technology in teaching, support of microbiological science in developing countries, and programs to improve K-12 science teaching and science reporting in the media.

“I am excited by this new opportunity to serve the field of microbial biology,” Neidhardt said. “We are entering an era that will be dominated by microbial challenges. New and re-emerging infectious diseases, alternatives to traditional antibiotic therapy, microbial biotechnology and the crucial role of microbes in Earth’s ecosystem are issues that simply cannot be ignored. The work of the Waksman Foundation can encourage entry of talented young people into microbial biology and can help the public make wise public policy decisions.”

Neidhardt, a noted bacterial physiologist, has been a foundation trustee for many years. He conducted growth research on Escherichia coli and is an expert on enteric bacteria. Author of several textbooks and many scientific papers, Neidhardt is a former president of the American Society for Microbiology, former vice president for research and former department chair and associate dean in the Medical School.