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Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)
It is so difficult to imagine a world without penicillin, the wonder drug that saves so many thousands of lives each year in every country of the world and that helps cure so many different diseases. Alexander Fleming, from Lockfield, Ayr was the man responsible for its discovery in 1928; thus he led the way for the widespread, universally accepted practice of antibiotic therapy for infectious diseases.

Fleming graduated from London University Medical School in 1906. He continuing to research antibacterial substances that would prove non-toxic to human tissues while he was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War I. He later joined the staff of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1928. While working with staphylococcus bacteria, he happened to notice that a bacteria-free circle had grown around a growth of mold that had been contaminating a staph culture. He called the substance penicillin that had prevented the growth of the bacteria. His startling discovery was published in British Journal of Experimental Pathology.

In addition to penicillin (which he did very little to promote), Fleming also discovered lysozyme, an anti-bacterial agent that is found in human tears and saliva. He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1945 (along with Ernst Chain and Howard Florey, both of whose continued work had helped in the purification, testing and quantity production of penicillin, all of which was necessary for the drug to be accepted, and thus making Fleming famous.)


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