Lloyd Conover

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Lloyd Hillyard Conover (born on June 13, 1923 in Orange, New Jersey) is the inventor of Tetracycline. For this invention, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Conover was the first to make an antibiotic by chemically modifying a naturally produced drug.[1] He has close to 300 patents in his name.


He was born in 1923 in Orange, New Jersey. Conover earned his B.A. from Amherst College in 1947, and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1950.[1]

Upon completion of his studies Conover joined Pfizer's chemical research department. Conover was part of a team exploring the molecular architecture of the broad-spectrum antibiotics Terramycin and Aureomycin. Both of these drugs had been discovered as natural products produced by Actinomycetes. Working in conjunction with Harvard Professor R.B. Woodward, the team began to recognize that it was possible to chemically alter an antibiotic to produce other antibiotics that were effective in treating various types of illnesses. In 1952, Conover developed tetracycline in this way. Specifically, he was able to produce tetracycline by dischlorinating Aureomycin by catalytic reduction, that is, by substituting hydrogen for chlorine in chlortetracycline. His success led to the process being used to produce other superior structurally modified antibiotics. This is a standard practice in the industry today.

Conover patented tetracycline in 1955. Within three years, tetracycline became the most prescribed broad spectrum antibiotic in the U.S. However during this time, the patent was challenged. In 1982, the courts upheld the patent and the right of scientists to patent based on similar methods.[2]

In 1971, Conover became research director at Pfizer Central Research in Sandwich, England. In 1984, he retired as a senior vice president.


  1. ^ a b "Lloyd Hillyard Conover." American Men & Women of Science: A Biographical Directory of Today's Leaders in Physical, Biological, and Related Sciences. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.
  2. ^ 676 F.2d 51 216 U.S.P.Q. 1056, 1982-1 Trade Cases 64,578 In re COORDINATED PRETRIAL PROCEEDINGS IN ANTIBIOTIC ANTITRUST ACTIONS.Appeal of UNITED STATES of America.UNITED STATES of America, Appellant,v. PFIZER INC., American Cyanamid Company, Bristol-Myers Company, Olin Corporation, Squibb, Inc., E. R.Squibb & Sons, Inc., and The Upjohn Company. Nos. 81-1067, 81-1068.United States Court of Appeals,Third Circuit. Argued Feb. 1, 1982. Decided Feb. 16, 1982. Retrieved June 8, 2011. http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/676/676.F2d.51.81-1068.81-1067.html

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