Sir Alexander Fleming 6 August 1881 – 11 March 1955, was a Scottish biologist and pharmacologist. Fleming published many articles on bacteriology, immunology and chemotherapy. His best-known achievements are the discovery of the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin from the fungus penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Walter Florey and Ernst Boris Chain.
In 1999, Time Magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century for his discovery of penicillin, and stated; "It was a discovery that would change the course of history. The active ingredient in that mold, which Fleming named penicillin, turned out to be an infection-fighting agent of enormous potency. When it was finally recognized for what it was—the most efficacious life-saving drug in the world—penicillin would alter ...view middle of the document...
Fleming served throughout World War I as a captain in the Army Medical Corps, and was mentioned in dispatches. He and many of his colleagues worked in battlefield hospitals at the Western Front in France. In 1918 he returned to St. Mary's Hospital, which was a teaching hospital. He was elected Professor of Bacteriology in 1928.
When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn't plan to By 1928, Fleming was investigating the properties of staphylococci. He was already well-known from his earlier work, and had developed a reputation as a brilliant researcher, but his laboratory was often untidy. On 3 September 1928, Fleming returned to his laboratory having spent August on holiday with his family. Before leaving he had stacked all his cultures of staphylococci on a bench in a corner of his laboratory. On returning, Fleming noticed that one culture was contaminated with a fungus, and that the colonies of staphylococci that had immediately surrounded it had been destroyed, whereas other colonies further away were normal. Contaminated his culture plates as being from the Penicillium genus, and—after some months' of calling it "mould juice"— named the substance it released penicillin on 7 March 1929.
He investigated its positive anti-bacterial effect on many organisms, and noticed that it affected bacteria such as staphylococci, and many other Gram-positive pathogens that cause scarlet fever, pneumonia, meningitis and diphtheria, but not typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever—which are caused by Gram-negative bacteria—for which he was seeking a cure at the time.
Fleming published his discovery in 1929, in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology, but little attention was paid to his article. Fleming continued his investigations, but found that cultivating penicillium was quite difficult, and that after having grown the mould, it was even more difficult to isolate the antibiotic agent. Fleming's impression was that because of the problem of producing it in quantity, and because its action appeared to be rather slow, penicillin would not be important in treating infection.