Fleming Discovers Penicillin (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: Fleming discovers penicillin and revolutionizes modern medicine with the use of this powerful antibacterial agent.
Summary of Event
The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 was the result of one of those happy accidents which, from time to time, turn scientific exploration in new directions. Fleming, who was born in 1881 and graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital and the University of London Medical School in 1908, had extensive medical experience with the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I when he dealt with bacterial infections of wounds. Afterward, while carrying out research at the University of London, Fleming discovered a natural substance in tears and mucous secretions that was capable of destroying bacteria—a substance he called a lysozyme.
Although seemingly the result of pure chance, Fleming’s discovery occurred because of his recognition of the significance of a phenomenon that other scientists had often observed: the ability of chance contaminants to destroy bacteria growing in laboratory cultures. During the summer of 1928, Fleming was carrying out studies on various strains of staphylococcal bacteria, the organisms frequently associated with both boils and serious blood infections. Fleming was planning on writing a section on the subject for an upcoming medical encyclopedia and was consequently observing characteristics of bacterial colonies,...
(The entire section is 1274 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!