Alexander Fleming, fully Sir Alexander Fleming

Alexander
Fleming, fully Sir Alexander Fleming
1881
1955

Scottish Biologist and Pharmacologist, awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Father of Antibiotic Research

Author Quotes

It was astonishing that for some considerable distance around the mold growth the staphococcal colonies were undergoing lysis. What had formerly been a well-grown colony was now a faint shadow of its former self...I was sufficiently interested to pursue the subject.

One sometimes finds what one is not looking for.

The lone hand has advantages as well as the much-advertised team-work, but each in its own place.

The misuse of penicillin could be the propagation of mutant forms of bacteria that would resist the new miracle drug

While working with staphylococcus variants a number of culture-plates were set aside on the laboratory bench and examined from time to time. In the examinations these plates were necessarily exposed to the air and they became contaminated with various micro-organisms. It was noticed that around a large colony of a contaminating mold the staphylococcus colonies became transparent and were obviously undergoing lysis. Subcultures of this mold were made and experiments conducted with a view to ascertaining something of the properties of the bacteriolytic substance which had evidently been formed in the mold culture and which had diffused into the surrounding medium. It was found that broth in which the mold had been grown at room temperature for one or two weeks had acquired marked inhibitory, bacteriocidal and bacteriolytic properties to many of the more common pathogenic bacteria.

A good gulp of hot whisky at bedtime—it’s not very scientific, but it helps. [Response when questioned about the common cold.]

For the birth of something new, there has to be a happening. Newton saw an apple fall; James Watt watched a kettle boil; Roentgen fogged some photographic plates. And these people knew enough to translate ordinary happenings into something new...

I have been trying to point out that in our lives chance may have an astonishing influence and, if I may offer advice to the young laboratory worker, it would be this—never neglect an extraordinary appearance or happening. It may be—usually is, in fact—a false alarm that leads to nothing, but may on the other hand be the clue provided by fate to lead you to some important advance.

If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life.

In my first publication I might have claimed that I had come to the conclusion, as a result of serious study of the literature and deep thought, that valuable antibacterial substances were made by molds and that I set out to investigate the problem. That would have been untrue and I preferred to tell the truth that penicillin started as a chance observation. My only merit is that I did not neglect the observation and that I pursued the subject as a bacteriologist. My publication in 1929 was the starting-point of the work of others who developed penicillin especially in the chemical field.

It has been demonstrated that a species of penicillium produces in culture a very powerful antibacterial substance which affects different bacteria in different degrees. Generally speaking it may be said that the least sensitive bacteria are the Gram-negative bacilli, and the most susceptible are the pyogenic cocci ... In addition to its possible use in the treatment of bacterial infections penicillin is certainly useful... for its power of inhibiting unwanted microbes in bacterial cultures so that penicillin insensitive bacteria can readily be isolated.

It may be - usually is, in fact - a false alarm that leads to nothing, but it may on the other hand be the clue provided by fate to lead you to some important advance.

It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject: the details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to the enterprise, thought and perception of an individual.

Author Picture
First Name
Alexander
Last Name
Fleming, fully Sir Alexander Fleming
Birth Date
1881
Death Date
1955
Bio

Scottish Biologist and Pharmacologist, awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Father of Antibiotic Research