Alexander Fleming Facts

Alexander Fleming Facts
Alexander Fleming (August 6, 1881 to March 11, 1955) was a Scottish scientist who is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the antibiotic penicillin in 1928. His research also formed major contributions in microbiology, chemotherapy, and other medical fields.
Interesting Alexander Fleming Facts:
Fleming completed his elementary school years in Scotland, despite losing his father while still only seven years old.
He went on to London to complete his schooling at the Royal Polytechnic Institution.
At the encouragement of his older brother, a physician, Fleming went on to become a doctor.
His military service actually led to his transition into research; as a member of the military and the rifle team at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, the captain of the team wanted to keep Fleming on the team, so suggested he join the research department after finishing school.
Ultimately, he began working in battlefield hospitals when World War I broke out, but he returned to St. Mary's after the war to continue research.
Fleming turned to teaching when he was made professor of bacteriology in 1928 at the University of London.
His military service actually led to his most important work; after witnessing so many soldiers die from infection following battle wounds, he set about to find a cure for bacterial infections.
Fleming was one of the first to recognize that antiseptics only treated surface wounds, and that antiseptics also tended to kill off the beneficial agents that helped fight infection.
Even though he had a solid reputation as a great researcher, Fleming's lab and workspace were often very messy. This actually led to the discovery of penicillin.
He had been studying the different properties of a strain of staphylococcus bacteria, but allowed mold to grow in the petri dish where a sample was stored due to these lab conditions.
When he went to work in his lab on September 28, 1928, he discovered that the staph couldn't grow near the penicilliummold. He uncovered the properties of the mold that prevented the staph from spreading to that region of the plate.
Interestingly, this same process was how Fleming had discovered lysozyme.
Fleming almost didn't continue researching penicillin, since it was hard to make the mold grow and it was difficult to isolate the antibacterial property of it.
An article he published on his findings received very little attention at first.
Two other researchers, Ernst Boris Chain and Edward Abraham, actually discovered how to isolate the penicillin and increase its potential, and they shared the Nobel Prize with Fleming.

Related Links:
Scientists Facts
Animals Facts
Alexander Fleming Timeline
Scientists Facts for Kids
Scientific Discoveries: c. 1900 - Present
Biography Timelines for Kids
Timeline: History and Biography Timelines for Kids
Authors Facts for Kids

Educational Videos