An Iconoclastic Researcher Makes a Badly Needed Antibiotic Breakthrough

An Iconoclastic Researcher Makes a Badly Needed Antibiotic Breakthrough 1

Mary Knox Merrill, Northeastern U.

Slava Epstein, a biology professor at Northeastern U. and inventor of the iChip device for cultivating bacteria, says grant reviewers initially told him, “It’s a good idea, a new idea—but Slava, it cannot be that simple.”

Millions of lives worldwide depend on science’s ability to find new antibiotics. The improvisation and persistence of Northeastern University’s Slava S. Epstein may now be one of their best hopes.

For decades, his fellow scientists banged their heads over most bacteria’s refusal to grow in laboratories. Mr. Epstein, a Russian émigré biology professor and a nonstop generator of ideas and energy, simply took another path.

Bacteria usually live in