Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish biologist and pharmacologist who is considered to be the father of antibiotic research.

Early life

Alexander Fleming was on 6 August 1881 on a farm in Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the son of farmer Hugh Fleming, and his second wife Grace Stirling Morton.


Alexander Fleming attended Louden Moor School and Darvel School, he also earned two-year scholarship to Kilmarnock Academy. At the end of his scholarship he moved to London where he attended the Royal Polytechnic Institution. Flemings older brother Tom was made a great impact in Alexanders choice of career since he was a physician. Under this influence Alexander enrolled at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in Paddington in 1903. There he earned MBBS from the school with distinction in 1906.


By 1927 Fleming was already well-known from his earlier work, and had developed a reputation as a brilliant researcher. At this point Fleming was investigating the properties of staphylococci. After leaving his laboratory for a trip, he left his culture of staphylococci stacked on a bench. When he returned, Fleming notices that one culture was contaminated with fungus and that this culture was dead while other cultures survived. Fleming took the contaminated culture to his former assistant Merlin Price who noticed him that he discovered lysozyme. Fleming took the mold and grew it in a pure container. He found that the substance produced would kill a number of disease-causing bacteria. He identified the mold as being from the Penicillium genus, and after some time named it penicillin (March 7, 1929). Afterwards Flemings findings drew attention and mass production was established of the worlds first mass produced antibiotic.

Later life

In 1955, Fleming died at his home in London of a heart attack. He was buried at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Alexander Fleming quotes

  • “It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject; the details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to enterprise, thought, and perception of an individual.”
  • “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for.”
  • “The lone hand has advantages as well as the much-advertised team-work, but each in its own place.”

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