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Florence B. Seibert

Florence B. Seibert
Born October 6, 1897
Easton, Pennsylvania
Died August 23, 1991(1991-08-23) (aged 93)
St. Petersburg, Florida[1]
Nationality American
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions University of Pennsylvania
Alma mater Goucher College
Yale University
Doctoral advisor Lafayette Mendel
Known for Isolating a pure form of tuberculin
Notable awards Garvan–Olin Medal (1942)

Florence Barbara Seibert (October 6, 1897 – August 23, 1991)[2] was an American biochemist known for isolating a pure form of tuberculin used in the standard TB test. She is a member of the U.S. National Women's Hall of Fame.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Professional achievements and awards 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Early life and education

Born in Easton, Pennsylvania, Seibert is said to have read biographies of famous scientists as a teenager which inspired her interest in science. As a child she contracted polio which left her walking with a limp, though the disability did not interfere with her life or work.

Seibert did her undergraduate work at Goucher College and earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Yale University. At Yale she studied the intravenous injection of milk proteins under the direction of Lafayette Mendel. She developed a method to prevent these proteins from being contaminated with bacteria.

Professional achievements and awards

In 1923 Seibert worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. She was financed by the Porter Fellowship of the American Philosophical Society, an award that was competitive for both men and women.

Seibert served as an instructor in pathology from 1924-28 at the University of Chicago and was hired as an assistant professor in biochemistry in 1928. At the University of Chicaco she developed a method for purifying the crystalline tuberculin derivative under the supervision of Esmond R. Long.[3] This purified protein derivative (PPD) was used in the standard TB test. The previous tuberculin derivative, Koch's substance, had produced false negative results in tuberculosis tests since the 1890s because of impurities in the material.

In 1932, she became assistant professor in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania at the Henry Phipps Institute and rose through the ranks to full professor and professor emeritus in 1959, when she retired. After her retirement she did volunteer work for many years in cancer research. She died at the Palm Springs Nursing Home in St. Petersburg.[1]
Siebert received the Trudeau Medal from the National Tuberculosis Association in 1938, the Francis P. Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society in 1942,[4] and an induction to the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1990.


  1. ^ a b "Dr. Florence B. Seibert, Inventor Of Standard TB Test, Dies at 93". The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Florence B. Seibert". Social Security Death Index. New England Historic Genealogical Society. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Esmond R. Long and Florence B. Seibert". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 

Yost, Edna, American Women of Science, Frederick A. Stokes Company (Philadelphia and New York 1943)

External links

  • Electrodialysis of Tuberculin, Florence B. Seibert and Milton T. Hanke
  • Florence B. Seibert Papers: An Inventory at Goucher College
  • National Women's Hall of Fame page on Florence B. Seibert (with photo)
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