Sir Alexander Fleming was a biologist and pharmacologist. His best achievements are the discovery of the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin from the fungus Penicilliu notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Walter Florey and Ernst Boris Chain. In 1999, In Time Magazine name Fleming one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century for his discovery of penicillin, and stated, “It was a discovery that would change the course of history.
He was born on 6th of August, 1881 at Lochfield near Darvel in Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the son of Hugh Fleming. His father died when Alexander was just seven year old. He attended louden Moor School, Darvel School, and Kilmarnock Academy & after that he went London to work as a shipping clerk. He spent four years in a shipping office and after that moved to St. Mary’ Medical school, London University. He qualified with distinction in 1906 and began research at St. Mary’s under the guidance of Sir Almroth wright; a pioneer in vaccine therapy. He obtained M.B.B.S. (London), with Gold Medal in 1908, and became a lecturer at St. Mary’s until 1914. He was elected Professor of the school in 1928 and Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology, University of London in 1948. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1943 and knighted in 1944.
Alexander Fleming died on 11th March 1955. He is buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Awards and honours
- Fleming, Florey and Chain jointly received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945. According to the rules of the Nobel committee a maximum of three people may share the prize. Fleming’s Nobel Prize medal was acquired by the National Museums of Scotland in 1989 and is on display after the museum re-opened in 2011.
- Fleming was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
- Fleming was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1943.
- Fleming was awarded the Hunterian Professorship by the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
- Fleming was knighted, as a Knight Bachelor, by king George VI in 1944.
- He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso X the Wise in 1948.
- In 1999, Time magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, stating:When 2000 was approaching, at least three large Swedish magazines ranked penicillin as the most important discovery of the millennium.
- In 2002, Fleming was named in the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest Britons following a nationwide vote.
- A statue of Alexander Fleming stands outside the main bullring in Madrid, Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. It was erected by subscription from grateful matadors, as penicillin greatly reduced the number of deaths in the bullring.
- Flemingovo náměstí is a square named after Fleming in the university area of the Dejvice community in Prague.
- A secondary school is named after him in Sofia, Bulgaria.
- In Athens, a small square in the downtown district of Votanikos is named after Fleming and bears his bust. There is also a number of Streets in greater Athens and other towns in Greece named either after Fleming or his Greek second wife Amalia.
- In mid-2009, Fleming was commemorated on a new series of banknotes issued by the Clydesdale Bank; his image appears on the new issue of £5 notes.
- In 2009, Fleming was voted third greatest Scot in an opinion poll conducted by STV, behind only Scotland’s national poetRobert Burns and national hero William Wallace.
- 91006 Fleming, an asteroid in the Asteroid Belt, is named after Fleming.