Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Sir Alexander Fleming 1881-1955
Alexander Fleming was born in Scotland but moved to London to study at the Polytechnic Institute. In 1906 he began his research on medical work. Blood and the use of antiseptics had always interested him, and so he focused on this. During his military career he was able to continue his studies and once he was demobilized, he settled down to work on antibacterial substances not harmful to animals. In 1921 he discovered Lysozymes, which are enzymes that can degrade bacterial cell walls. Fleming however, is most famous for the creation of penicillin, which was caused by an accident. Fleming was working on the influenza virus when he observed that mold had grown in a ring around a culture sample that proved to be bacteria free. He experimented with this and found that the mold would leave an area bacteria free even if the concentration was diluted up to 800 times. Fleming gained numerous awards including the Nobel prize in Medicine (1945) and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1943. He was knighted in 1944. He died on March 11, 1955 and is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.