OSRD vs OPRD and OSS
Bertrand Goldberg was an important pioneering industrial designer - someone who was one part architect and one part engineer.
In 1943, he teamed up with Westinghouse and the OSS (yeah the pre-CIA spy guys!) to come up with a way to grow and process natural penicillin at the front lines, particularly in the then current North Africa campaign.
No official frontline grow ops along the clever methods proposed by Goldberg were ever built, but I have come across plenty of unofficial and semi-official grow ops on the North African - Italian - West Africa - India - China front lines that did save lives.
I suspect Vannevar Bush's GOP-oriented OSRD, the de facto Lobbyist-in-Washington for the entwined couple of Big Pharma & Big Academia , put a quick stop to the OSS idea.
For if army medic technicians could make life-saving penicillin under relatively primitive conditions in the combat zones, how could Big Pharma hope to charge high prices for their high tech synthetic penicillin and how could the scientists at the big research universities sustain their claim of exclusive arcane knowledge ?
The OSRD and its British equivalent never did produce any significant amounts of wartime penicillin - synthetic or otherwise.
Wartime penicillin in mass production levels came about mostly thanks to the efforts of the almost unknown OPRD branch of the New Deal-oriented WPB (War Production Board).
But the OPRD successes and Goldberg's mobile penicillin lab remains almost unknown in academic and popular accounts of wartime penicillin, where the totally inaccurate PR version touted by the OSRD and its fellow travellers holds firm sway.
The OSRD's story won out largely because the OSRD and Vannevar Bush told postwar academic researchers exactly what they always wanted to hear : proposing that the taxpayers give them lots of money ---and then leave them strictly alone.
As a result most academics researching wartime penicillin have let down their guard and generally bought into the OSRD version of the facts without really examining it closely.
Simply put, my thesis is that the biggest disaster for the mass production of cheap abundant penicillin during WWII was the day that the OSRD got its hooks into it.
Only the unexpected intervention for the Hearst newspaper chain building up a storm over the fate of baby Patty Malone changed the dynamics so completely that penicillin suddenly became one of the biggest success stories of WWII.
A huge success story, and one that the OSRD then claimed credit for, contrary to all the facts.....