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Alexander Fleming Birth Anniversary: Interesting Facts About the Scientist Who Discovered Penicillin

Did you know that in 1999, the Time magazine named Alexander Fleming as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century. More facts follow.

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Updated:August 6, 2019, 12:32 PM IST
Alexander Fleming Birth Anniversary: Interesting Facts About the Scientist Who Discovered Penicillin
Image courtesy @ladymetis (Instagram)

Scottish biologist, physician, microbiologist, and pharmacologist, Sir Alexander Fleming was born on August 6, 1881.

A Nobel Prize winner for Physiology or Medicine in 1945, Fleming is best-known for his discoveries of the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the world's first antibiotic substance benzylpenicillin (Penicillin G) from the mold Penicillium notatum in 1928. He shared his Nobel Prize with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain.

One of the most noted physicians of his time, Fleming has contributed to microbiology, chemotherapy, and other medical fields. On his 128th birth anniversary, here are some interesting facts about the discoverer of Penicillin.

--Fleming lost his father at the age of seven. He studied at an elementary school years in Scotland, followed by his schooling at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London.

--It was Fleming’s military service which led to his transition into research. Fleming assisted in battlefield hospitals in France during World War I (1911 – 1918).

--During his military service, after witnessing so many soldiers die from infection or septicemia even after surviving initial battlefield wounds, Fleming set about to find a cure for bacterial infections.

--In 1927, he investigated the properties of staphylococci. The laboratory where Fleming discovered and tested penicillin is named the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum in St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

--Fleming turned to teaching when he was made professor of bacteriology in 1928 at the University of London.

--Fleming was the first physician to recognize that antiseptics only treated surface wounds, and that antiseptics also tended to kill off the beneficial agents that helped fight infection.

--Fleming made the discovery of penicillin public in 1929, after he conducted a series of experiments. However, this did not again popularity, and he continued working on the mold for several years.

--He was knighted as Knights Bachelor in 1944 for all his work.

--Fleming died of a heart failure in London on March 11, 1955 at the age of 73.

--In the year 1999, the Time magazine named Fleming as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.

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