Howard Florey (1898-1968)

Australian-born British bacteriologist. Born on 24 September 1898 in Adelaide, Florey studied medicine at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1921, when he won a Rhodes scholarship to study physiology and pharmacology at Oxford University. In 1927 he became a lecturer at Cambridge, and was later appointed Director of Medical Studies.

In 1935 Florey became Head of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University. Florey led the team which successfully extracted the active ingredient penicillin produced by the mould penicillium notatum, and by the end of World War II the drug was in commercial production for the Allies.

In 1944 Florey was knighted and in 1945 he and his colleague Ernst Chain shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Fleming, in recognition of their work with penicillin and its development for medicinal use. In later years Florey went on to discover cephalosporin C, the basis for alternative antibiotics. In 1960 he was elected President of the Royal Society and was made a life peer of the Order of Merit.

Florey died in Oxford on 21 February 1968.