Howard Florey- the making of a Great Scientist

24 Sep 2020  Thu

Howard Florey, an Australian pharmacologist, and the pathologist born in Adelaide in 1898. He is considered to be one of the greatest scientists. Howard Florey shares the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine with colleague Ernst B. Chain and Alexander Fleming for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases.

Florey studied medicine at Adelaide and Oxford University until 1924. He was appointed professor of pathology at Sheffield and then at Oxford. He also served as president of the Royal Society.

Fleming first observed the antibiotic properties of the mould that makes penicillin, but it was Chain and Florey who developed it into a useful treatment. They were conducting the first-ever clinical trials of penicillin at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford in 1941. Following World War II and the work of his research team in North Africa, penicillin came into widespread clinical use.

Florey's discoveries, along with the discoveries of Fleming and Ernst Chain, are estimated to have saved over 200 million lives, and he is consequently regarded by the Australian scientific and medical community as one of its greatest figures. Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, said, "In terms of world well-being, Florey was the most important man ever born in Australia."

Sir Howard Florey died on February 21, 1968. The Postal Department of Australia issued a 60 cent commemorative stamp depicting Florey's portrait.

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