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In 1929, Stuart Craddock a doctor at St. Mary’s Hospital in London was suffering from a sinus infection. He had a swollen nose, watery eyes and a stuffed head. The New Year wasn’t exactly starting off well for Stuart. Craddock’s colleague, Alexander Fleming treated him with a substance he had been developing. The infection improved immediately, Fleming called this new remedy Penicillin.
Alexander Fleming was born in the Lowlands of Scotland at Lochfield Farm on August 6, 1881 to parents Hugh and Grace Fleming. He was the second youngest of eight Fleming children. At the age of five, Alexander began to attend a one room school house called the Loudon Moor. Later, when he was about twelve, Alexander transferred to the Kilmarnock Academy where the headmaster encouraged lots of science study. Here he gained a wide knowledge of the sciences and an understanding of how they were inter-related. At the age of fourteen, he moved to London to live with one of his older brothers and enrolled into the Polytechnic Institute (more of a business school). Later he worked as a clerk at a shipping company until he won a scholarship to St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School when he was twenty. When he graduated from St. Mary’s, he was offered a position as a research biologist. Fleming remained associated with St. Mary’s for the rest of his life.
This is a map of where Alexander Fleming grew up.
What is a Research Bacteriologist?
First of all, to know what a research bacteriologist is, you have to know what bacteria is. Bacteria are among one of the smallest organisms on earth, most bacteria can only be seen under a microscope. Bacteria are unicellular organisms, so they consist of only one cell. Some places bacteria can be found are: in the air, in the soil and in plants. Bacteriologists study the growth and characteristics of micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and parasites, and their interactions with the environment. Bacteriologists also help scientists and physicians in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infections in animals and humans.
The Discovery and Development of Penicillin
For examination purposes Fleming had removed the cover of a bacteria filled petri dish that he was working on. A mold formed on the exposed culture. A less gifted scientist would have thrown away the accidentally contaminated culture. He, however, noticed that in the area surrounding the mold, the bacteria had disappeared. Fleming kept a strain of mold alive and began testing it on the laboratory animals. In 1929 he published his first medial article which argued that the (penicillum) mold was a powerful microbe killer that didn’t harm human skin tissue. For years chemists were unable to extract enough pure “penicillin” to use in medicine. Fleming kept his mold, but the world of science almost forgot about it. A team of Oxford scientists, headed by Ernst B. Chain and Howard Florey, remembered Fleming’s paper of nine years earlier. Although World War ll interfered with large-scale production of penicillin in Great Britain methods for mass production, purification and stabilization were made in the United States.
The Later Years
In 1915, Alexander married Sarah McElroy. Their son, Robert was born in 1924. Sarah died then died in 1949. He married a Greek research bacteriologist in 1953. Two years later, on March 11, 1955 Fleming died of a heart attack.
On November 21st, Fleming discovered lysozyme. This is an enzyme present in body fluids such as saliva and tears that has a mild antiseptic effect. This was the first of his major discoveries.
In 1944 he was knighted in recognition for his work.
In World War I Fleming served as a medical captain, specializing in the study and treatment of wounds. He was deeply impressed by the high death rate from bacterial infection of wounds. His discovery of penicillin greatly reduced the death rate from wounds in World War II.
Where the name "Penicillin" came from:
1929, coined in English by Alexander Fleming, who first recognized its antibiotic properties, from Modern Latin Penicillium notatum (1867), the name of the mold from which it was first obtained, from Latin penicillus "paintbrush" (see pencil (n.)), in reference to the shape of the mold cells.
"Alexander Fleming." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 20 Sep. 2013.
Gottfried ,Ted. Alexander Fleming: Discoverer Of Penicillin. New York. New York Franklin Watts 1997. Print.”
. Web. 24 Sep 2013. <
Wikipedia contributors. "“Bacteria”."
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