Fleming's discovery of penicillin

Alexander Fleming is famous for, among other things, his discovery of penicillin. As the old tale goes, some of his bacterial cell culture plates became contaminated from the air, and he came to work the next morning to realize that a contaminating mould was secreting something which seemed to be killing the bacterial cells. He carried out a series of careful experiments characterizing the mould (determined to be of the genus Penicillium) and the effects of its secretion as an anti-bacterial agent. His initial article received little attention, and mass culturing the mold and extracting the penicillin itself was difficult. He gave up trying and the project was quickly picked up by Howard Florey and  Ernst Boris Chain. With funding from the US and UK in WWII, Florey and Chain were able to figure out how to produce mass quantities. Fleming, Florey, and Chain shared the Nobel Prize in 1945 for this discovery.

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