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In the era that launched the development of penicillin post WWII most scientists were men. Today, little by little female scientists are growing and contributing to some of the most significant new inventions in medicine. But, Gladys Hobby, Elizabeth McCoy, Dorothy Fennel, Dorothy Hodgkin and Margaret Hutchinson were all women who contributed greatly to the discovery a penicillin, then considered one of most critical scientific endeavors. This group of women, while they can't claim inventing the drug, played a critical role.
Penicillin was considered the first germ-killer that didn't kill someone who took it. Hobby, a microbiologist at Columbia University that was encouraged by work already done on penicillin, began purifying a previous prototype. She and a partner became the first people to treat a patient with penicillin and cured that person within six months. McCoy's later research led to a way to produce the drug in large quantities, while Hutchinson worked on constructing the first production plant. Hodgkin was able to determine the molecular structure of penicillin, which enabled its synthetic production. In 1964, she became the third women to receive the Nobel Prize for her analysis of penicillin, which also led to the development of vitamin B12. As with many inventions, especially newer scientific ones, a single person cannot claim the credit. For that reason, in certain cases, numerous inventors can be named on a single patent.