Bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 - 1955) is famous for discovering the antibacterial properties of penicillin in mould.
In 1921, as an offshoot from his work at St Mary’s Hospital in London, Fleming discovered lysozyme, a naturally occurring antiseptic that was capable of dissolving bacteria. This led to his discovery seven years later of penicillin.
In the late 1930s, biochemists Howard Florey and Ernst Chain at Oxford University analysed the chemical structure of penicillin and experimented with mice to test its effect on infections.
The three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 for ‘the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases’. Penicillin was developed for commercial production in the USA and has since saved countless lives.
These images are from pages of Fleming’s clinical research notebooks, which date from 1901 to 1953. The first image shows his experiments relating to bacteriophage in 1921, the second image shows a clinical chart from 1942 and the third image shows his work relating to the Inhibitions of Moulds in 1928.
The three images shown above are from three different lab books. The first image is from Bacteriophage (shelfmark Add MS 56154 f.135), the second image is from the Clinical chart (shelfmark Add MS 56183 f.282), and the third image is from Inhibition by Moulds (shelfmark Add MS 56162 f.26).
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