The Story of the Discovery of Penicillin
Penicillin was discovered accidentally, at St. Mary's Hospital, in London, by Dr.Alexander Fleming . Fleming was examining a culture of Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogenic bacterium on which he was doing some research, when he noticed that it had become contaminated by a species of Penicillium. Although, the species of the mold was unknown to Fleming, at the time, he did observe that it was inhibitting bacterial growth. Fleming wrote a paper on his findings in 1929 and the rest is history. However, it was never that simple. Such a short summary really does not tell you the entire story, and in this case, says that Fleming's discovery of penicillin was one of chance and does not credit other people, who were just as deserving or more so in the development of penicillin for medicinal use.
Some luck, surely was involved, as is true with many events. Alexander Fleming did not have any ambition to become a doctor throughout his life. His start into bacteriological medicine came from an unlikely string of events. In 1900, when the Boer War broke out between England and colonies in southern Africa, Fleming and two brothers joined a Scottish regiment, which turned out not to be such a dangerous time for them as they had chanced upon a country club environment. They spent much of their time shooting, swimming, and even playing water polo. Following the war, Fleming returned home to discover that his uncle had died and left him and his brothers with a sizable inheritance. His older brother, Tom, who was a successful doctor by this time, advised him to invest his money on his career and suggested that he attend medical school. Fleming scored high on his examination and was able to select from three medical schools. He knew nothing of these schools and selected St. Mary's Hospital, in London, only because he had once played water polo against them. After graduation, Fleming had trained to be a surgeon for just as random a reason, but then found himself in a choice that was even more bizarre. He had the option of taking a position, as a surgeon and leaving St. Mary's or he could join the Inoculation Service and stay at St. Mary's. The major influence on Fleming staying was that the captain of St. Mary's rifle club knew of his option and was desperate to improve his team. Knowing that Fleming was a great shot he did all he could to keep him at St. Mary's. He convinced Fleming to join his department in order to work with its brilliant director and to join the rifle club. Fleming would stay at St. Mary's, where his discovery of penicillin was made, and for the rest of his career.