Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming

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  • Alexander Fleming was born in Ayrshire, Scotland on 6th August 1881. He was the son of a farmer.
  • This is my brother Thomas Fleming who, in 1895, allowed me to stay with him in London to finish my education at Regent Street Polytechnic (now called the University of Westminster).
  • Then Alexander Fleming studied at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in 1901. Seven years later, he received a gold medal as the top medical student.
  • Fleming developed his research techniques under the guidance of bacteriologist and immunologist Sir Almroth Edward Wright.
  • In 1928, while studying influenza, I noticed that mould had accidentally developed on a set of culture dishes. I was going to throw it away when I noticed that the mould had created a bacteria-free cirlce around itself. After further experiments, I named it 'penicillin'. I discovered that it was antibiotic. However, even though I enlisted the help of two other researchers, we failed to stabilize and purify penicillin. But I realised that, if developed properly, penicillin had clinical potential in both topical and injectable forms.
  • A team of scientists form the University of Oxford - led by Howard Florey and Ernest Chain - isolated and purified penicillin so it could be used as a drug. At first, supplies of penicillin was limited but, by the 1940s, it was being mass-produced by the American drug industry. This antibiotic revolutionized battlefield medicine during World War II.
  • Alexander Flemming wrote many papers on bacteriology, immunology and chemotherapy. In 1928, he was elected professor of a medical school and emeritus professor at the University of London in 1948. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1943 and, the following year, knighted. In 1945, Flemming - along with Florey and Chain - shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine. On 11th March 1955, Alexander Flemming died in London.
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