Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)
As a boy, Fleming worked in a shipping office in London until an inheritance enabled him to study medicine at St Mary's Hospital. He was interested in microbes which caused diseases such as tetanus and gangrene, and searched for substances to combat them.
Penicillin became a life-saver in the Second World War when Howard Walter Florey and Ernst Boris Chain came across penicillin in their search for antibiotic substances - research which finally enabled the large-scale production of the antibiotic. Fleming was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1943 and knighted in 1944. In 1945 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Florey and Chain.
Related Themes and Topics
Techniques and Technologies:
Kevin Brown, Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution (Stroud: History Press, 2005)
Robert Bud, Penicillin: Triumph and Tragedy (London: Oxford University Press, 2009)
Branch of biology that deals with micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and their effects.
An acute infectious disease, affecting the nervous system. Infection generally occurs through contamination of a wound. Symptoms include a locked jaw, arching of the back or neck and the inability to urinate.
Death and decay of wound tissue infected by a soil-based bacteria. Toxins produced by the bacterium cause decay of connective tissue and the generation of gas.
A shallow dish used in science to grow micro-organisms. A Petri dish is circular, transparent and has a lid.
Micro-organisms which can cause disease but have an important role in global ecology.