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Barnett Rosenberg

Born 1926
Died August 8, 2009
Fields Physics/Biophysics
Institutions Michigan State University
Known for Cisplatin

Barnett Rosenberg (born 1926 - 8 August 2009) was an American chemist best known for the discovery of the anti-cancer drug cisplatin.[1]

Rosenberg graduated from Brooklyn College in 1948 and obtained his PhD in Physics at New York University (NYU) in 1956. He joined Michigan State University in 1961 and worked there until 1997.

In 1965, Rosenberg and his colleagues proved that certain platinum-containing compounds inhibited cell division and then in 1969 showed that they cured solid tumors. The chemotherapy drug that eventually resulted from this work, cisplatin, obtained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1978 and went on to become a widely used anticancer drug. The initial discovery was quite serendipitous. Rosenberg was looking into the effects of an electric field on the growth of bacteria. He noticed that bacteria ceased to divide when placed in an electric field and eventually pinned down the cause of this phenomenon to the platinum electrode he was using.[2]


  1. ^ Barnett Rosenberg, Loretta van Camp, Thomas Krigas “Inhibition of Cell Division in Escherichia coli by Electrolysis Products from a Platinum Electrode” Nature 1965, Vol 205, page 698. doi:10.1038/205698a0
  2. ^ Gregory A Petsko “A Christmas Carol” Genome Biol. 2002; volume 3, comment1001. PMCID:150444


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