It is heartwarming to learn that a 30-year-old Brooklyn College professor will share credit with Dr. Selman A. Waksman of Rutgers University for discovering streptomycin. It is less gratifying, however, to find that the young man had to go to court to get it.
In an out of court settlement, Dr. Albert Schatz, former graduate student under Waksman at Rutgers, was awarded $125,000 for his interest in foreign patent applications on streptomycin. He also will get three per cent of royalties on its sale, retroactive to last Oct. 1.
The names of Waksman and Schatz were on the U. S. patent application for streptomycin which was turned over to Rutgers to establish the Rutgers Research and Endowment Foundation. Yet, so far as the public knew, discovery of the wonder drug was accomplished solely by Waksman. The Rutgers microbiologist won wide acclaim for his accomplishment.
The statement of Dr. Robert C. Clothier, Rutgers president, that the university had always recognized Schatz as co-discoverer is a little belated, to say the least. Probably his work in this important discovery might never had been known to the public had not Waksman accepted part of the royalties that accrued from the bounding sales of the new drug. Schatz said he and Waksman had agreed to turn over all royalties to Rutgers. When he learned Waksman instead had kept some of the royalties, he sued for his share.
It will take more than long-winded explanations to convince the public that Schatz didn't suffer a grave injustice as a reward for his part in this important advance in medical science.
A change in the system of crediting scientific discoveries so that the rewards are fairly distributed appears to be in order as a result of Schatz's suit and its settlement.