Inventor: Sir Alexander Fleming
Famous Invention: Penicillin
Biography Sir Alexander Fleming was born in Lochfield, Scotland on
August 6, 1881. He died in London, England on March 11, 1955 at the age
He was a biologist, that is a scientist who
studies living things, both plants and animals, and he was a
pharmacologist, that is a scientist that studies drugs and their effects
on living things.
He graduated from both Kilmarnock Academy and the
Royal Polytechnic Institution, receiving scholarships and high honors at
both places. He received his medical training at St. Mary’s Hospital,
Paddington, London where he joined the research department and studied
under the famed research scientist Sir Almroth Wright.
Sir Alexander graduated from St. Mary’s in
1908 with highest honors and remained there at the teaching hospital as
a lecturer for the next six years.
Sir Alexander married his medical colleague
Sarah Marion McElroy with whom he had one child, Robert Fleming who
followed in the footsteps of his parents by entering into the medical
profession as a general practitioner.
Sarah died in 1949 and Sir Alexander later
married one of his colleagues at St. Mary’s, Dr. Amalia
Sir Alexander served in the Royal Army
Medical Corps during World War I and upon his discharge he returned to
work at St. Mary’s where he became the President of Bacteriology.
Sir Alexander Fleming
In 1928, Sir Alexander made the life
changing discovery of penicillin. Many people, even now over eighty
years later, owe their lives to Sir Alexander.
Fleming, along with two researchers Florey
and Chain who had taken Sir Alexander’s discovery of penicillin and
preformed studies on it were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for
Medicine in 1945. It was presented to them by King Gustaf V of Sweden.
Sir Alexander went on to be knighted in
1944 because of the wondrous, life saving discovery which he had made.
He was later elected head of the Royal Society of London. This
prestigious position is awarded to a member of the British Commonwealth
and is held for five years. It is considered to be one of the highest
honors that society bestows upon a scientist.
Sir Alexander Fleming died of a heart
attack in his own home in 1955. His marker at St. Paul’s Cathedral
reads 1881 – 1955. That simple line between those two dates represents
a life of service and many lives saved because of Sir Alexander’s
dedication to research and service to others.