Penicillin sodium salt in glas bottle, 1943.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm

Penicillin sodium salt in glas bottle, 1943.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Early sample of penicillin made by Merck & Company of New Jersey, USA, and given to the Science Museum by Sir Norman Heatley from the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford. In 1928 Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) discovered the bacteria-killing properties of a substance made by the mould Penicillium, which he named penicillin. The Australian pathologist, Howard Florey (1898-1968), developed large-scale penicillin production for use in World War II. In 1943 scientists at the Squibb Laboratories in the US obtained pure penicillin in crystalline form. Fleming, Florey and Ernest Chain (1906-1979), a fellow member of the Oxford University research team, shared the 1945 Nobel Prize for Medicine for their contributions to the discovery and development of penicillin.

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