Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)
Sir Alexander Fleming was born in 1881 in
rural Lochfield, Scotland.
He graduated from the medical school of St. Marys Hospital in London
and began doing immunological research. He was a researcher at St. Marys
throughout his professional career.
In 1909, a chemical treatment for syphilis was developed by the German
Dr. Paul Ehrlich. The chemical was named salvarsan, which means "that
which saves by arsenic". Fleming was one of the physicians to use
salvarsan, which was injected intravenously.
During World War I, he was an army doctor and studied wound infections.
He observed that antiseptics injured the body cells more than they injured
In 1928, one of Flemings staphylococcus bacteria cultures became exposed
to the air and became contaminated by a mold. He noticed that the bacteria
had been dissolved in the area of the culture surrounding the mold.
This substance was not toxic to humans or animals.
In 1929, the results of Flemings work were published in the British
Journal of Experimental Pathology. In the late 1930s British medical
researchers, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, read Flemings article on
penicillin. They replicated his work and were able to purify penicillin.
After testing it on some patients, they discovered that it was effective.
In 1944, Fleming was knighted for his contribution to the field of medicine.
He was thereafter known as Sir Alexander Fleming.
In 1945, Fleming, along with Florey and Chain, was awarded the Nobel
Prize for his discovery of penicillin.
Alexander Fleming died in 1955.