Alexander Fleming

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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.
~ Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming (6 August 1881 – 11 March 1955) was a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist. He wrote many articles on bacteriology, immunology, and chemotherapy. His best-known discoveries are the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain.

Quotes[edit]

  • How fortunate we didn't have these animal tests in the 1940s, for penicillin would probably not have been granted a licence, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realised.
    • Reported in Dennis V. Parke, "Clinical Pharmacokinetics in Drug Safety Evaluation," in ATLA: Alternatives To Laboratory Animals, vol. 22, no. 3, May/June 1994, p. 208.
    • The context is: "the present approach to drug safety evaluation, based on experimental animal studies, is known to be of questionable scientific veracity and has never been satisfactorily validated as an appropriate surrogate system for man. My former teacher, Sir Alexander Fleming, in his late years, chided me, saying …"

biographyonline.net[edit]

  • When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer, ... But I guess that was exactly what I did.
  • 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.
    • Lecture at Harvard University. Quoted in Joseph Sambrook, David W. Russell, Molecular Cloning (2001), Vol. 1, 153.
  • 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.
  • One sometimes finds what one is not looking for.