En: Sir Alexander Fleming

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Sir Alexander Fleming

Source: Wikipedia

(6 August 1881 – 11 March 1955) was a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist. His best-known discoveries are the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance benzylpenicillin (Penicillin G) from the mould Penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain. He wrote many articles on bacteriology, immunology, and chemotherapy.


(6 August 1881 - 11 März 1955) war ein schottischer Biologe, Pharmakologe und Botaniker. Seine bekanntesten Entdeckungen sind 1923 das Enzym Lysozym und 1928 die antibiotische Substanz Benzylpenicillin (Penicillin G) der Form Penicillim notatum, für welche er 1945 zusammen mit Howard Florey und Ernst Boris Chain den Nobelpreis in Physiologie oder Medizin erhielt. Er schrieb viele Artikel für Fachzeitscheriften über Bakteriologie, Immunologie und Chemotherapie. (Übersetzung H. Thorandt)

Early life and education

Born on 6 August 1881 at Lochfield farm near Darvel, in Ayrshire, Scotland, Alexander was the third of the four children of farmer Hugh Fleming (1816–1888) from his second marriage to Grace Stirling Morton (1848–1928), the daughter of a neighbouring farmer. Hugh Fleming had four surviving children from his first marriage. He was 59 at the time of his second marriage, and died when Alexander (known as Alex) was seven.

Fleming went to Loudoun Moor School and Darvel School, and earned a two-year scholarship to Kilmarnock Academy before moving to London, where he attended the Royal Polytechnic Institution.[8] After working in a shipping office for four years, the twenty-year-old Fleming inherited some money from an uncle, John Fleming. His elder brother, Tom, was already a physician and suggested to him that he should follow the same career, and so in 1903, the younger Alexander enrolled at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in Paddington; he qualified with an MBBS degree from the school with distinction in 1906.

Fleming had been a private in the London Scottish Regiment of the Volunteer Force since 1900,[2] and had been a member of the rifle club at the medical school. The captain of the club, wishing to retain Fleming in the team suggested that he join the research department at St Mary's, where he became assistant bacteriologist to Sir Almroth Wright, a pioneer in vaccine therapy and immunology. In 1908, he gained a BSc degree with Gold Medal in Bacteriology, and became a lecturer at St Mary's until 1914. Fleming served throughout World War I as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was Mentioned in Dispatches. He and many of his colleagues worked in battlefield hospitals at the Western Front in France. In 1918 he returned to St Mary's Hospital, where he was elected Professor of Bacteriology of the University of London in 1928. In 1951 he was elected the Rector of the University of Edinburgh for a term of 3 years.

Myths

The popular story of Winston Churchill's father paying for Fleming's education after Fleming's father saved young Winston from death is false. According to the biography, Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution by Kevin Brown, Alexander Fleming, in a letter to his friend and colleague Andre Gratia, described this as "A wondrous fable." Nor did he save Winston Churchill himself during World War II. Churchill was saved by Lord Moran, using sulphonamides, since he had no experience with penicillin, when Churchill fell ill in Carthage in Tunisia in 1943. The Daily Telegraph and The Morning Post on 21 December 1943 wrote that he had been saved by penicillin. He was saved by the new sulphonamide drug Sulphapyridine, known at the time under the research code M&B 693, discovered and produced by May & Baker Ltd, Dagenham, Essex – a subsidiary of the French group Rhône-Poulenc. In a subsequent radio broadcast, Churchill referred to the new drug as "This admirable M&B".

It is highly probable that the correct information about the sulphonamide did not reach the newspapers because, since the original sulphonamide antibacterial, Prontosil, had been a discovery by the German laboratory Bayer, and as Britain was at war with Germany at the time, it was thought better to raise British morale by associating Churchill's cure with a British discovery, penicillin.

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