Mildred Rebstock

Why did Mildred Rebstock choose science? "I just liked that sort of thing better than some others," Dr. Rebstock told Time magazine in 1949. Mildred Catherine Rebstock was born on Nov. 29, 1919, in Elkhart, Indiana and her interest in science started when she was in high school. After graduation, she moved to Illinois’ North Central College where she studied chemistry and zoology. She was then granted a fellowship to the University of Illinois where she researched ascorbic acid. She received her masters in 1943 and doctoral degree in 1945. Mildred became a chemist in the research laboratories of Parke-Davis in Detroit, as one of the few women in scientific research. 

In an interview recorded by the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Dr. Rebstock said that in 1950 only about 3 percent of people in scientific research were women. "Women are proving themselves, and this is demonstrated by the fact that laboratories are not going back to their prewar practice of barring women scientific workers from employment," Dr. Rebstock said. Mildred is best known for work as a researcher in Parke-Davis pharmaceuticals where her research team produced a synthetic form of antibiotics chloromycetin. This was used to treat typhoid fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. After that discovery, chloromycetin became the first antibiotic drug to be manufactured synthetically on a large-scale basis. For her achievements, Dr. Rebstock was praised by President Harry Truman in 1950 when she was lauded by the Women's National Press Club for her outstanding achievements in science. Chloromycetin is still produced today and used as a second course treatment for severe infections such as cholera and meningitis. Dr. Rebstock spent her career doing pharmaceutical research, initially with antibiotics and later with synthesizing blood-lipid agents and fertility drugs.

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