Saranac Laboratory Named an ASM Milestones in Microbiology Site for its Groundbreaking Tuberculosis Research

The American Society for Microbiology is honored to designate the Saranac Laboratory in Saranac Lake, New York as a Milestones in Microbiology site for its fundamental contributions to the understanding and treatment of tuberculosis (TB).

The Milestones in Microbiology program was established by ASM to promote greater awareness and appreciation of microbiology. The award recognizes sites where major scientific developments and pivotal discoveries occurred. This is the 17th site to gain this honor.

“The work conducted at Saranac Laboratory, and later at Trudeau Institute, not only expanded our understanding of TB exponentially, but served as a guide as to how to treat this life threatening disease,” said Robin Patel, ASM President. “ASM is honored to recognize the Saranac Laboratory as a Milestones site for its contributions that have advanced the science and society’s understanding of TB.”

The Saranac Laboratory, founded in 1894 by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, was the first facility in the United States built specifically for TB research. Decades of research conducted there and at the companion Trudeau Research and Clinical Laboratory led to the critical finding that both the bacterial pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the environment contribute to the development of TB. Trudeau made significant advances in establishing effective TB treatments. Most notably, he established a sanatorium for patients, which proved so successful in treating the disease that it served as the model for hundreds of sanatoria throughout the United States and Canada.

Other notable microbiologists made critical advances at the Trudeau laboratories in Saranac Lake:

• Strashimir A. Petroff developed improved methods to culture the tubercle bacillus.

• William Steenken Jr. isolated H37Rv – the most commonly used laboratory TB strain – that led to effective anti-tubercular drug therapies.

• Edward R. Baldwin started the Trudeau Mycobacterial Culture Collection, which included some of the earliest isolates of M. tuberculosis, and for decades, was the most comprehensive assembly of pathogenic mycobacteria in the world.

The Saranac Laboratory was also known as the global center for scientific training in the study of tuberculosis. The Trudeau School for Tuberculosis, established by Baldwin in 1916, was an annual six-week course that trained physicians and scientists from around the world in the latest developments in TB treatment and research. After the Saranac Laboratory closed in 1964, ongoing experiments moved to the Trudeau Institute, where Trudeau’s scientific legacy continues to inspire advances in the microbial sciences.

Previously designated “Milestones in Microbiology” sites include:

1. Waksman Laboratory at Rutgers University

2. Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, California

3. Site of the University of Pennsylvania Laboratory of Hygiene

4. Scripps Institution of Oceanography

5. Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

6. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

7. Microbial Diversity Course at Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole

8. Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Connecticut

9. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Bacteriology

10. The Rockefeller University

11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

12. Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the University of Michigan

13. Ocean Station ALOHA, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

14. Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, NJ and West Point, PA.

15. University of Texas at Dallas Founders Building

16. University of Minnesota

Learn more about the Milestones in Microbiology

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