This page is devoted to the history of the Maryland Branch ASM and to the contribution of its members to the world of microbiology.  The history was written by Dr. Andrew G. Smith, Archivist.  Dr. Smith was director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory of the University of Maryland Medical Center for over 40 years.  He also served as a Research Professor in the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

The history of the Maryland Branch, ASM, began 64 years ago with the formation in Baltimore of the Maryland Society of Bacteriology in 1931. Its first president was William W. Ford of the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. He served through 1933. In 1931, the Maryland Society sponsored the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society of American Bacteriologists (SAB) (Historical Doc01) which was held in Baltimore, December 28-30. J. Howard Brown of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was president of the SAB and concurrently the vice president of the Maryland Society; he became president of the Maryland Branch in 1934. General Chairman of the Program Committee for that meeting was another charter member of the local society, Barnett L. Cohen, also of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He served as president of the local branch in 1939.

In 1934, provision was made by the SAB for local Branches to be represented on the council of the SAB. This ruling stimulated the growth of local Branches and in 1935, under the leadership of president Clinton L. Ewing of the Baltimore City Health Department, eleven members of the Maryland Society petitioned the SAB council for local branch status; this was granted along with the petitions of six additional local organizations (Historical Doc02, see page 4). This increased the number of local branches at that time from 5 to 12 nationwide. J. Howard Brown was appointed the local Branch's first councilor.

The membership roll of the local Branch carried over 100 names in 1935. Many were to become well known to microbiologists worldwide. Some notable members who were active in the Branch during its first decade or so would include: W. Mansfield (pH) Clark, president of the SAB in 1933; Einar Leifson who developed media for isolation and identification of enteric bacilli, e.g., desoxycholate medium, selenite F, malonate broth, O-F basal medium and a flagella stain; Perrin Long who did early sulfonamides research; Isabelle Schaub along with M. Kathleen Foley published in 1940 a text entitled "Schaub and Foley", which gave rise ultimately to the Bailey and Scott edition of "Diagnostic Microbiology", the text has been continued now through nine editions by Sydney M. Finegold and various co-authors; Lloyd Felton did early work on the pathogenicity of pneumococci; John Brewer produced many inventions for the diagnostic microbiology laboratory including thioglycollate medium, anaerobic jars, pipetting machinery, autoclave sterilization monitors, and a rapid plasma reagin (RPR) card test for syphilis; Harriette D. Vera was an expert on the industrial production and sterility control on a wide range of bacteriologic media; Martin Frobisher did early research on natural immunity; C.A. Perry proposed standard training procedures for medical technologists; Justina Hill was an expert on sexually transmitted diseases; Harry Eagle developed a method for growing tissue cells in vitro, developed a diagnostic test for syphilis, showed the efficacy of penicillin in the treatment of syphilis and gonorrhea, worked on a cure for African sleeping sickness, and was a past president of the ASM (1958).

The Maryland Branch was very active in the decade from February 1935 to December 1945. At least 18 meetings were held, mostly dinner meetings at various restaurants throughout the Baltimore area. In the early years, members were notified by "penny post cards" which informed them of the date, place, program and cost of the meal (Historical Doc03). Streptococci received most of the attention at these meetings, followed by the enteric organisms with most of the attention being on the typhoid bacillus; Einar Leifson presented his research on sodium selenite as an enrichment medium for the isolation of Salmonella and Shigella species on February 11, 1936 (Historical Doc04). Industrial fermentations, milk and water sanitation and antimicrobial agents also received attention as did the complement fixation test for syphilis. At the meeting on May 9, 1939, W. Barry Wood, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, presented the results of his studies on antibody production in pneumococcal pneumonia treated with antiserum and sulfapyridine (Historical Doc04). A unique meeting occurred on April 17, 1940, when the manager of a local theater invited members of the Branch to a preview of the Hollywood movie on Paul Ehrlich starring Paul Muni entitled "Magic Bullets". In a preamble, Justina Hill, president of the Branch in 1936, presented the highlights of Ehrlich's career (Historical Doc04).

The Branch remained active during the years of WWII under the guidance of such individuals as Barnett L. Cohen, C.A. Perry, Isabelle Schaub, Kathleen Foley, John Brewer, Harriette Vera, Theodore J. Carski, Martin Frobisher, Elizabeth Petran, Roger Reid and Thomas Turner among others. By the end of WWII, exciting subjects such as antibiotics and electron microscopy were waiting to be explored; the latter was revealing new and provocative information about microbial anatomy and about bacterial viruses, i.e., bacteriophages (Historical Doc05).

Nineteen-hundred and fifty was the golden jubilee year of the SAB. Barnett Cohen was president and also the archivist (he had been since 1935). For that meeting, which was held in Baltimore on May 14-18, he had prepared the Chronicles of the Society's first half century. It was printed and presented to the SAB and its members by the Williams and Wilkens Company and the Waverly Press as a memento of the meeting. In the 1950s the Branch meetings seemed to taper off somewhat; however, through the efforts of dedicated members such as: Donald Shay, Theodore J. Carski, Rudolph Allgeier, Baxter McLaughin, Edward Herbst, Merrill J. Snyder, Paul Rohde, J.M. Joseph and Harold Glassman, it remained an active and forceful organization providing a rostrum for established scientists as well as graduate students and others to present their research for member's information and discussion.

Since April 1960, the Branch has operated under a constitution which has been revised five times; the last in April 1987. The following officers are designated: President, President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, Assistant Secretary, Councilor and Alternate Councilor. As such, along with the Immediate Past President, they constitute the Executive Committee. Standing committees are as follows: Long Range Planning consisting of President-Elect, Vice President and at least two active or emeritus members; Auditing consisting of two active members; Membership consisting of the Secretary-Treasurer and one or two members; Nominating consisting of a chairman and two additional members excluding current officers; Publication consisting of an editor and additional members as determined by the editor. Duties are to collect microbiological news and related matters of interest to be published in a newsletter. Special Committees may be appointed for specific functions whenever the need arises.

The Annual Awards Committee consists of a chairman and two members. Two citations are made annually. One in memory of Barnett L. Cohen, who was president of the Branch in 1942 and president of the national society (SAB) in 1950. The award is presented to one in recognition of their contributions, devotions and interest in promoting the science of microbiology. The second is in memory of J. Howard Brown and is presented to a graduate or an undergraduate student who is making a contribution worthy of recognition in the field of microbiology. These awards were established in 1954.

The Career Guidance Committee consists of a chairman and three members. Its genesis derived from C.A. Perry's concern about the "recruitment and training of laboratory people". Perry was Branch president in 1940. His discussion and advice led to the establishment in December 1964 of the committee under the chairmanship of George S. Warner, Branch president 1967. The committee is to maintain direct liaison with local educational systems and institutions for planning activities designed to inform students of career opportunities in the field of microbiology and to coordinate their efforts in these activities. The committee responds to requests for speakers on special subjects from area science supervisors and provides judges for student science fairs in Maryland. A U.S. Savings Bond is awarded for the most deserving project. In addition, a certificate of commendation from the ASM is awarded to both the student and the teacher advisor. The citations are presented at the Annual Awards Dinner in the spring meeting.

Provision is made for an Archives Committee consisting of an Archivist and an Assistant Archivist. They shall be custodians of the records of the Branch, both organizational and other, and shall maintain same in proper chronology. In addition, the committee shall maintain liaison with the Archivist of the ASM and shall, when possible, provide requested materials and records or facsimiles thereof.

Currently, the Branch is prospering; it has a dues-paying membership of 234. Throughout its history it has fared well because of the abundant contributions from members of surrounding academic, city, state, federal and industrial departmental laboratories engaged in a wide range of microbiologic practice and research. Some of the specific sources of these contributions include the following: the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore City Health Department, Maryland State Health Laboratories, Baltimore Biological Laboratories (BBL) - now Becton Dickinson Microbiology Systems, and the Laboratories of Fort Detrick, Maryland in Frederick, Maryland (now the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases).

Citations for the above-mentioned sources must include the efforts of the founders of the Maryland Society, which became a Branch of the SAB in 1935. Members from the Johns Hopkins Schools were highly represented in those early days as previously noted. Today these schools continue to be very active as sources of members who support the Branch's programs and provide leadership. Over the last decade, the following have served as president: Patricia Charache, 1985; William Merz, 1987; Ray Arthur, 1990 and James Dick, 1993. John Hanks, who headed the Johns Hopkins-Leonard Wood Memorial Leprosy Research Laboratory, was world renowned for his leadership in leprosy research and for developing a balanced salt solution that led to early breakthroughs in cell culturing procedures.

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry's Department of Microbiology has been very active at both the local and national levels. Donald E. Shay, who founded the department in 1945 and served as its chair until retirement, was president in 1952. He served the ASM as secretary for seven years, 1967-1974. Following his retirement, he chaired the Archives Committee for ten years leading to the establishment of the Center for the History of Microbiology at the University of Maryland, Catonsville, Baltimore County; the Center was dedicated in 1991. Others who served from the Dental School as president of the Branch included: Earl F. Becker, 1970; George N. Krywolap, 1975; William Falkler, 1978; Robert J. Sydiskis, 1979; Robert K. Nauman, 1984, who also served the ASM as Chairman of the Membership Committee for nine years (1984-1993); and Henry R. Williams, who, as the first black, served as president in 1988. The University of Maryland School of Medicine supplied the following members as president of the Branch: Edward Herbst, 1958; Merrill J. Snyder, 1959, who also compiled the newsletter for many years; Andrew Smith, 1961; and David Johnson, 1982. One of the outstanding members from the Maryland School of Medicine was Gardner Middlebrook, world renowned for his development of media formulations for the growth and identification of Mycobacterium spp. both by conventional culture methods and by direct determination in raw sputum specimens via the BACTEC radiometric system. Salman Siddiqi worked closely with Middlebrook on the latter project, as did Joseph Libonati.

The Maryland State Health Laboratories have always given strong support to the Branch. Elizabeth Petran was president in 1946, J.M. Joseph in 1962; he currently heads the Maryland State Laboratories and is consultant to the World Health Organization. He served as secretary of the ASM following Don Shay's term; he also served ASM as Chairman of the Membership Committee. Joseph Libonati was president of the Branch in 1973; he also served as councilor.

Becton Dickinson Microbiology Systems has always provided in large measure to the Branch's membership and in 1995 they composed 34% of the roll. Twelve of their members have served as president to date: Harriette Vera, 1943; Theodore J. Carski 1953; Paul Rohde, 1960; Theodore J. Carski 1968; Charles Griffin, 1971; Daniel Allgeier, 1976; Lynn Russell, 1980-1981; George Evans, 1986; Teresa Brashears, 1991; Paul Goldenbaum, 1992; David Power, 1994; and Patricia Farmer, 1995. The company (BBL) that became Becton Dickinson Microbiology Systems was founded in 1935 by Theodore J. Carski and Einar Leifson who were at that time employees of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Theodore J. Carski served the ASM as treasurer for several years beginning in 1970. He also established the Carski Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award in 1964. It bestowed its first award in 1968. Special note is accorded to Paul Rohde, who, since 1948 served the company in several capacities, e.g., as Director of Technical Services. One of his responsibilities was to produce educational promotional literature such as the BBL Manual of Products and Laboratory Procedures. He was devoted to the Branch and was known nationally and internationally as "Mr. BBL".

Members from the laboratories at Fort Detrick were highly supportive of the Branch despite their distance from Baltimore, which required about a 100 mile round trip per meeting. Several of them served as president: Harold Glassman, 1963; James Duff, 1966; Sidney Silverman, 1969; Joseph Lemski, 1974; Edgar (Bud) Larson, 1977; and Anna-Johnson Winegar, 1989. Riley D. Housewright was Scientific Director at Fort Detrick, 1956-1972, and in 1967 served as president of the ASM. From 1981-1984 he was ASM's Executive Director during which time he directed the reorganization and modernization of ASM's headquarters administration in Washington, D.C. During his career he served the national society in many volunteer activities. Offensive Biological Warfare (BW) research at the Fort ceased by President Nixon's executive order in 1969, but defensive BW research continues and so does research on a wide variety of infectious diseases and laboratory procedures. Officially the programs are now pursued under he administration of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Harold Glassman was a member of the team that purified botulinum toxins; he served as Assistant Director of Science. Bud Larson and Joseph Lemski spent over three decades developing facilities, instrumentation and techniques in aerobiology. Much of their work involved Bacillus anthracis. Research at Fort Detrick has had a widespread impact on laboratories throughout the world. Among the most valuable of contributions was the research of Charles Phillips, who established ethylene oxide as a safe gaseous sterilization agent. After more than 50 years, Fort Detrick remains an "Installation of Excellence" in medical science and technology.

It is of interest to note that throughout its years the Branch records two sets of father-son presidential combinations: (1) Rudolph Allgeier, 1955 and Daniel Allgeier, 1976; twenty-one years apart and (2) Theodore J. Carski, 1953 and Theodore R. Carski, 1968; fifteen years apart. It is also appropriate to cite again, as a group, those members who served the ASM as president: J. Howard Brown, 1931; W. Mansfield (pH) Clark, 1933; Barnett L. Cohen, 1950; Harry Eagle, 1958; and Riley D. Housewright, 1967. To be president of a viable scientific organization such as the Maryland Branch requires dedication and diligence. Realizing this, Jerome Abramson (FDA), president in 1983, introduced the practice of presentation of "Certificates (these are now Plaques) of Acknowledgement" honoring outgoing presidents for their years of dedicated service to the Branch. The honor was made retroactive to include living ex-presidents in so far as they could be contacted.

This history of the Maryland Branch written for the ASM's Centennial Heritage Committee covers 64 years of the Branch's activities and refers to many of its members who helped keep it a viable scientific organization. Omissions which may be noted in this review are due to oversight by the Archivist, who sincerely apologizes for such occurrences. There is every reason to believe that the Branch, surrounded as it is by many sources of microbiologic talent, will continue to persevere into the future as it has in the past.

Andrew G. Smith, Archivist

©2019 by American Society for Microbiology.