In 1939, René J. Dubos (1901-1982) discovered gramicidin, an antibacterial agent that inhibits the growth of gram-positive bacteria. It was the first antibiotic to be tested clinically, and it was used in topical form to treat wounds and ulcers during World War II. More effective antibiotics soon superseded gramicidin. But Dubos' discovery launched the antibiotic era and prompted other scientists to renew their stalled investigations into penicillin.

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