Monday, October 13, 2008

Sir Alexander Fleming

Today we honor Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955). Fleming is best remembered as a Nobel Prize winner for his co-discovery of penicillin. As a farmer's son, it was by chance that he was part of a rifle club with a man who encouraged his academic pursuits. After completing his education in London and lecturing at St. Mary's for several years, he fought in WWI. It was during this time that his interest in bacteria in the blood intensified.

Fleming's discovery of penicillin has would be a modern day myth, except that it is indeed true; it was an accident. Fleming carelessly left some of his cultures in his lab for weeks while on vacation. When he returned, he did not immediately clean them up. Then, one day he noticed that the "stuff" growing in the dishes was keeping bacteria at bay! He published an article about his discovery in 1929, but it would be years before the research would come to fruition with the work of Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, who share the Noble Prize with Fleming.

Fleming's pursuit of personal profit (in the form of scientific prominence) benefited us all. Fleming was a scientist looking to better his career with a publication, which turned out to be a great life saver and improver. Not only did this discovery go on to create vast amounts of cash wealth, but it created joy and happiness from longer lives and the ability to beat diseases like Gonorrhea that is hard to quantify.

Alexander Fleming on Wiki
Alexander Fleming in Time
Alexander Fleming's Noble Prize Biography

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