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Alexander Fleming
- Favourite Briton.

Born in Darrell, Ayrshire and Arran
Born on 6th of August 1881
Died in London
Died on 11th of March 1955

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Sir Alexander Fleming was born on 6th August 1881 and died 11th March 1955. He was a British biologist and pharmacologist, best known for his discovery of the antibiotic penicillin in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945 with Florey and Chain. Fleming was born in East Ayrshire, Scotland, the third of four children from his father's second marriage. Fleming worked in a shipping office for four years until he inherited some money from an uncle at the age of twenty. His older brother Tom, a physician, suggested he train in medicine, and so in 1901 Alexander Fleming enrolled at St. Mary's Hospital, London where he was looking at becoming a surgeon. By chance he switched to the Research Department where he became assistant bacteriologist to Sir Almroth Wright, a pioneer in vaccine therapy. It was at St. Mary's that Fleming met his wife, a nurse called Sarah McElroy, and they had one child together, Robert. After her death in 1949, Fleming married another St. Mary's colleague,
Amalia Koutsouri-Vourekas, in 1953. He served as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps during World War I, where he discovered that antiseptics were killing more soldiers than infection itself. After the war he returned to St. Mary's and was elected Professor of Bacteriology in 1928. His discovery of penicillin happened quite by chance whilst looking for a cure for typhoid and paratyphoid. He was quite a careless and messy lab technician and after returning from a holiday, noticed that many of his culture dishes containing staphylococci were contaminated with a fungus. He noticed a zone of mould around an invading fungus where the bacteria could not grow and proceeded to isolate an extract from the mould, correctly identifying it as being from the Penicillium genus. He named the agent penicillin, and investigated its positive effect on many organisms, most notably staphylococci and other Gram positive bacteria. For years though he could not work out how to isolate the antibiotic agent. Shortly after
Fleming gave up investigating it, Florey and Chain began researching and mass producing it, making enough to treat all the wounded allied forces during World War II. Fleming also discovered antibiotic resistance, when too little was used or for too short a period, as well as discovering the enzyme, lysozyme, in 1922.

Links:
internal link Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum
internal link Buried here

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Brit Quote:
Many a man is praised for his reserve and so-called shyness when he is simply too proud to risk making a fool of himself. - J B Priestley
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On this day:
Siege of Derry Begins - 1689, Opening of the Natural History Museum - 1881, Republic of Ireland established - 1949
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