Alexander Fleming was born on August 6, 1881 in Scotland to Hugh Fleming and Grace Sterling Morton. He had seven siblings. He was born into a family of farmers. When he was only seven years old, he lost his father to ill health. To support his family, he started to work with his mother on the farm.
Why Called Great?
He was a great Scottish physicist, biologist and pharmacologist, who are known for his discovery of penicillin. It was the world’s first antibiotic, which was used to treat bacterial infections and diseases. He also identified the enzyme ‘Iysozyme’ in 1921. Fleming was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.
Unforgettable & unbeatable School Life
Fleming studied at Loudoun Moor School and Darvel School, and moved to London at the age of thirteen to attend the Royal Polytechnic Institute, after receiving scholarships for Kilmarnock Academy.
He received an excellent education with the help of his mother. He took a few classes at Regent Street Polytechnic. After fishing his primary education, he followed his elder brother to the St Mart’s Hospital Medical School on a scholarship. In 1908, he received gold medal for being the top medical student there.
Step towards Career Life
Fleming was offered a job in the research department at St Mary’s as an assistant bacteriologist. He wanted to become a surgeon, but started to take an interest in the field of bacteriologist.
During this time, he met Sir Almroth Edward Wright, who taught Fleming more about vaccines. His mentor, Wright guided Fleming to find medication to build the immune system, from what was available at the time.
What is the contribution of Fleming during World War I, for their country?
At the time of World War I, Fleming served as a captain in the Royal Army medical Corps. He worked in the war hospitals and kept researching the effects of antiseptics on the injuries.
From his work, he found out that the antiseptic was doing more harm than good, and was also decreasing the patient’s immunity which didn’t allow them to heal properly. He main toned that more soldiers were dying from the antiseptic treatment than from the infections they had picked up from injuries in the war. He suggested the solution that to heal the wounds they needed to be kept dry and clean. But, his observations were ignored.
Truth Behind of ‘lysozyme’
While doing some tests n the laboratory, he discovered an enzyme called a ‘lysozyme’, which is usually presents in tears, skin, hair and nails. Fleming was the first person to find this enzyme, which turned out to be one of the most important discoveries in the history of mankind. In today’s medical field, lysosomes are used for treating colds and throat infections, and also as preservatives in food.
Discovery of Penicillin
His next significant discovery was penicillin. Fleming made his discovery entirely by accident. In 1928, Fleming was studying influenza when he stumbled upon the discovery. He was working on some germs which he was growing in his laboratory.
After returning from a vacation, he notices that a mold had started to grow on the plate. The germs were killed by the same mold. At first, he named it ‘mold juice’. It was later renamed to ‘penicillin’. It was a breakthrough in the field of science which could cure many diseases. In 1929, Fleming’s findings were published in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology.
Howard Florey and Ernst Boris
Even through Fleming found the mold; he couldn’t find a way for its mass productions. Until 1940, scientist Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain at oxford continued with Fleming’s research. They successfully turned the mold into medicine.
The medicine started getting used in hospitals during World War II. Many battlefield infections were treated that earlier would have spread. Fleming’s development of penicillin continues to save millions of people around the world.
The most significant accolade in his scientific career was winning the Novel Prize in Medicine with two other scientists in 1945. He became an honorary member of every medical and scientific society of the time.
He became the president of the Society for General Microbiology. He was awarded the Hunterian Professorship by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Fleming was knighted by King George VI and became Sir Alexander Fleming in 1944.
Fleming married Sarah Marion, a nurse, on December 24, 1915. The couple had one son, who also studied medicine. Fleming died at the age of 73 due to a heart attack on March 11, 1955.