Barnett Rosenberg

Barnett Rosenberg (16 November 1926 – 8 August 2009) was an American chemist best known for the discovery of the anti-cancer drug cisplatin.[1]

Barnett Rosenberg
Born(1926-11-16)November 16, 1926
New York, New York
DiedAugust 8, 2009(2009-08-08) (aged 82)
Lansing, Michigan
Known forCisplatin
Scientific career
InstitutionsMichigan State University

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 as a professor of biophysics 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 anti-cancer 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 traced the cause of this phenomenon to the platinum electrode he was using.[2]

He was awarded the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists [3] in 1979, the Charles F. Kettering Prize in 1984 and the Harvey Prize in 1984.[4]


  1. Rosenberg, B.; Van Camp, L.; Krigas, T. (1965). "Inhibition of Cell Division in Escherichia coli by Electrolysis Products from a Platinum Electrode". Nature. 205 (4972): 698–699. doi:10.1038/205698a0. PMID 14287410.
  2. Petsko, G. A. (2002). "A christmas carol". Genome Biology. 3 (1): COMMENT1001. doi:10.1186/gb-2001-3-1-comment1001. PMC 150444. PMID 11806819.
  3. "Chemical Pioneer Award". American Institute of Chemists. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
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