Beginning in the mid-1920s and even after her retirement in 1965, Dr. Fraser carried on research at the University of Toronto. For the first twenty years, usually with her brother, Donald, her research concentrated on the development of scarlet fever and other antitoxins. This research formed part of ongoing studies of certain aspects of infection and immunity in pneumonia, diphtheria, and scarlet fever, often in conjunction with health departments across Canada. It also involved the testing of products and the monitoring of scarlet fever outbreaks.
As the Second World War began, she started investigating the incidence of agglutinative types of strains of haemolytic streptococcus in a small scarlet fever ward at the Riverdale Isolation Hospital. Through the use of exacting technical procedures, she was able to prove the transfer of agglutinative types from one patient to another in the same ward. She continued work in this field and, in 1941-1942, by examining cultures from 650 people, was able to identify the incidence of particular types of streptococci in various groups of persons. The techniques perfected proved of particular use in studying the outbreak of scarlet fever in Royal Canadian Air Force bases across southern Ontario between 1941 and 1944. In 1942-1943 she worked on the preparation of a combined antigen containing diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and tannic acid precipitate of scarlet fever toxin.
During the war, her research also included the development of penicillin, especially in relation to the campaign to combat venereal disease. From January, 1944, in co-operation with the penicillin committee of the armed forces, she conducted a bacteriological investigation of clinical material from patients treated with penicillin. At the same time she was actively engaged in the investigation of two antibiotics, streptothricin and streptomycin.
After the War Dr. Fraser continued her laboratory and clinical studies in antibiotics. One aspect of her research, between 1946 and 1948, was to test the effectiveness of penicillin in oil and wax in the treatment of gonorrhoea. In 1947, as a member of team including researchers from the Department of Botany, she spent much of her available time testing a group of new strain of micro-organisms for their activity against selected cultures. A number of new preparations of penicillin designed to prolong its action were also tested on laboratory animals and then on humans, this project extending into 1949. Further refinements in the testing of the effectiveness of penicillin were continued the next year.
In 1948 Dr. Fraser began a major study of antibiotic substances with special reference to tubercle bacillus and gram-negative cocci. A year later she was studying the antibiotic activity of several strains of penicillin against gram-negative bacilli of the enteric group. In 1950 she began another two-year project, studying the toxicity and protective effect of partially purified antibiotic substances isolated from fungi, utilizing
samples of Arctic soil. She also investigated the conditions for the production of antibiotics in deep culture.
In 1952 she began expanding on earlier research by exploring methods for the concentration of antibiotic from one of the strains of penicillin previously studied. The following year she was investigating methods for the electrophoresis on paper strips of vaccinia virus and a strain of bacteriophage, research that continued to be refined over the next several years with particular references to viruses. By 1957 she was beginning chemical tests of the fractions obtained by electrophoresis separation. Simple synthetic media were also developed for the propagation of phage on a non-pathogenic mycobacterium. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s Dr. Fraser's principal research was in a major project on the development of the anti-tuberculosis antigen, compound 377.
The eight boxes in this series contain research notes, background material, correspondence, data, articles and reports. The associated nine boxes of records of laboratory experiments are found in the next series.
The series begins with three boxes (019-021) of mimeographed and printed articles, and reports, and research notes on areas of interest, especially scarlet fever, tuberculosis, cultures, penicillin, electrophoresis, rheumatic fever, serum sickness, smallpox, spectrophotometry staphylococcus, streptococcus and venereal disease. The arrangement is largely alphabetical by topic.
Box 022 contains applications for, reports on, and correspondence regarding research grants for the years 1944-1964, on projects such as testing the effectiveness of penicillin, on new antibiotics, the electrophoresis of viruses, and tuberculosis vaccine trials.
Boxes 023 and 024 contain correspondence, notes, Dick, skin and lethal test results for research on scarlet fever streptococcus toxin production, and papers describing the results. Included are data for tests on rabbits, in schools, isolation hospitals, the Ontario School for the Deaf, orphanages, and students in the Public Health Nursing program at the University of Toronto. Much of this research was carried out at
the Connaught Laboratories, and the researchers corresponded with several other research institutes including the Richardson Pathological Laboratory at Queen's University.
Box 025 contains files on scarlet fever outbreaks amongst the Royal Canadian Air Force and other military personnel in bases across Ontario between 1941 and 1944. There are also more files of correspondence, notes, and reports, primarily from the 1930s and the early 1940s, on the development of scarlet fever antitoxin, on testing the effectiveness of penicillin in oil and wax in the treatment of gonorrhoea, and on the survival of streptococci and staphylococci in various products. The files from the 1950s relate largely to work on bacteria and viruses and to research methodology.
Box 026 contains the last general research files in this series. The correspondence, data, and reports are associated with a the development of compound 377. Sensitivity tests, clinical and drug trials were carried out at the Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, at the Toronto Hospital for Tuberculosis in Weston, and in London and Woodstock.