Alexander Fleming Fact File: Lifespan: 1881 – 1955 *** Full Name: Alexander Fleming *** Occupation: Scottish Biologist, Botanist and Pharmacologist *** Date of Birth: Alexander Fleming was born on August 6th 1881 *** Place of Birth: Alexander Fleming was born at Lockfield farm near Darvel in Ayrshire, Scotland *** Family background: His father was Hugh Fleming and his mother was Grace Stirling Morton, her father owned a nearby farm. Alexander’s father died when he was just seven years old. His father had been previously married and married Alexander’s mother when he was fifty nine *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with four half siblings from his father’s first marriage and three siblings of his own *** Education: Alexander Fleming attended Loudoun Moor School and later Darvel School where he earned himself a scholarship for two years to attend Kilmarnock Academy, after which he moved to London to attend the Royal Polytechnic Institution ***
Alexander Fleming Fact 1: Alexander Fleming was born on August 6th 1881 and during the 19th century period in history when scientific discoveries were being made and innovations in mathematics, physics, biology, electricity and chemistry were moving very fast.
Alexander Fleming Fact 2: After he finished his education he worked in a shipping office until he was twenty years old.
Alexander Fleming Fact 3: Tom, his older brother, had become a physician and would encourage his brother to follow the same path.
Alexander Fleming Fact 4: In 1903 Fleming began his medical training at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School located in Paddington. By 1906 he had qualified with a distinction on his MBBS degree.
Alexander Fleming Fact 5: Since 1900 Fleming had been in the Volunteer Force as a private in the London Scottish Regiment. While attending medical school he had joined the rifle club there and the club captain suggested he apply to the research department of St Mary’s.
Alexander Fleming Fact 6: This he did and would become the assistant to Sir Almoroth Wright a bacteriologist and pioneer in immunology and vaccine therapy.
Alexander Fleming Fact 7: By 1908 he had earned his BSc degree in Bacteriology with a Gold Medal. Until 1914 he was also a lecturer at St Mary’s.
Alexander Fleming Fact 8: When the First World War broke out he became a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps working in the hospitals on the battlefields of the Western Front.
Alexander Fleming Fact 9: Postwar he went back to St Mary’s Hospital and would be elected as Professor of Bacteriology at the University of London in 1928.
Alexander Fleming Fact 10: Having seen the devastating effect of infections during the war, in particular sepsis, he began searching for anti-bacterial agents vigorously.
Alexander Fleming Fact 11: What he had discovered was that extensive use of antiseptics on wounds, in particular deep wounds, actually made the situations worse often causing death more from the treatment than the wound. Antiseptics worked better on the surface rather than in tissue.
Alexander Fleming Fact 12: By 1927, he had earned his reputation as a researcher of brilliance albeit an untidy one, however this would ultimately lead to one of the greatest discoveries of humankind.
Alexander Fleming Fact 13: Having been away from his laboratory during the summer month of August, upon his return he found his stack of staphylococci cultures that he had left stacked on a corner bench, showed one of the cultures had been contaminated with a fungus.
Alexander Fleming Fact 14: Upon further examination the colonies of staphylococci directly around the fungus were gone but in other areas where there was no fungus were as normal.
Alexander Fleming Fact 15: Having identified the moulds origins as coming from the Penicillium genus and he would eventually call the substance penicillin, in the meantime he had taken to calling it “mould juice”. He continued with his research and experiments to see what could be achieved with this new discovery.
Alexander Fleming Fact 16: He once said "When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn't plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer, but I suppose that was exactly what I did."
Alexander Fleming Fact 17: This discovery would make the beginning of modern antibiotics.
Alexander Fleming Fact 18: Although this discovery led to a lifesaving medicine, he couldn’t stress enough the importance of using the antibiotic in a strong enough dose or for a long enough period, as if not properly used the infection could develop a resistance to the antibiotic. This in turn led to the cautionary advice not to overuse the antibiotic as overuse would ultimately cause a patient to build up immunity to the drug.
Alexander Fleming Fact 19: He together with Chain and Florey all received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.
Alexander Fleming Fact 20: On March the 11th of 1955 Alexander Fleming died of a heart attack at his home in London at the age of seventy three. His body was laid to rest at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Influence & Legacy: His legacy is truly a great one, not only did he discover the cure for bacterial infections but his penicillin antibiotic went on to save millions of lives and continues to do so to this day.