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Alexander Fleming. “The Penicillin Man” By: John Rowland PowerPoint by: Diana Subron. Introduction.

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alexander fleming

Alexander Fleming

“The Penicillin Man”

By: John Rowland

PowerPoint by: Diana Subron



Alexander Fleming was born on August 6th,1881 in Darvel, Ayrshire, Scotland. He is most famous for penicillin, which is a vaccine that cures illnesses such as pneumonia. Fleming died on March 11,1955. I chose Alexander Fleming because I wanted to know more about his life and how he made penicillin.



When Alexander was a child, he had three siblings. He had an older sister and brother, Grace and John , and a younger brother Robert. They were the kids of their father Hugh’s second marriage. Hugh had four other kids in his first marriage also. Robert was Alec’s best friend throughout his childhood. All eight kids lived on a farm in Ayrshire.

His family used to call him “Little Alec” because he was very small for his age. Alec started school when he was five and he went to a primary school called Loudoun Moor in Darvel, Ayrshire. In 1888, Alec’s father dies when Alec was seven. This caused struggles for the family farm that they were renting. The family had less to live with now that Hugh died.

Alec was always out exploring nature. He was either fishing or climbing into a tree to see a bird’s nest. That made him curious and adventurous. His brother said “Alec is always thinking something up, and if it didn't work , he lost no time in discarding and thinking up something else.”



In 1893 Alec starts school at Kilmarnock Academy in Ayrshire at the age of twelve. One day , Alec was running around a corner of his school building trying to get to his next class. He ran into another boy and the boy’s head made full contact with Alec’s nose. After the swelling went down, Alec saw that his nose was permanently flattened. When he is fourteen, he leaves to live with his older stepbrother Tom in London. His brother Robert and his sister Grace also come to London.

He then attends Regent Street Polytechnic school in London for two years. The kids in class laugh at his and Robert’s strong Scottish accent. The brothers quickly made friends with their intelligence and their friendly personality.

When he is sixteen, he leaves the school because of lack of money. After he drops out, Alec becomes a shipping clerk. In 1899, when the Boer War broke out, Alec and his brother join the army for four years.



In 1901 Alec enrolls in St. Mary Medical School in London. He meets Sally McElroy in 1914 and then marries her in 1915 on December 13 when he was 44 years old. They moved into a small house in Chelsea, England. Alec was very active in the Chelsea Arts club, which was a recreation center in the city.

In 1921 Alexander discovered a lysozyme. He then discovered penicillin in 1928. It dissolves many types of bacteria anywhere. Later that year, he became a professor of bacteriology at the University of London. When he became a professor, his mother died.

On March 17,1924 he had his first and only child Robert. Alexander won a Nobel Prize for medicine along with Howard Florey and Ernst Chain for the discovery of penicillin. He was giving a public speech one day and spoke about penicillin. He simply stated, ”Nature makes penicillin; I just found it” . In 1949 his wife Sally dies. Alexander then remarries one of his fellow workers Amalia Voureka in 1953. Alexander Fleming dies of a heart problem in 1955.


Alexander Fleming was born in Ayrshire , Scotland On August 6, 1881.

1901- Alec and enroll in St Mary medical school; which is the same year that he enters the army.

1928- Alec discovers penicillin which helps many people around the world

Alec discovers the substance lysozyme in 1921.

In 1949 Alec’s wife Sarah dies.

1915-Alec marries Sarah (Sally) McElroy

Alec gets his first and only child Robert on March 17,1924.

1945- Alec wins the Nobel Prize for medicine.

Alexander Fleming dies of a heart problem in March 17, 1955 after being remarried to Amalia Voureka for two years.

1895 -Alec moves to London with his stepbrother Tom , his brother Robert, and his sister Grace.


Fleming discovered a lysozyme in 1921. A lysozyme is a substance found in animals, mold, plants, and body liquids such as tear drops, mucus, and saliva. A lysozyme can dissolve many types of bacteria.

Penicillin is also what Alexander discovered, and what he is probably most famous for. The name comes from the word penicillium, which is a fungi that Alexander found on a rotting nectarine. He saw that there was a growth on the nectarine that was killing the mold. He extracted the growth and he tested it with other bacteria, and it killed the bacteria. Alexander decided to call it “ penicillin”.

interesting story
Interesting Story

In 1921, Alec had a cold when he was working with Petri dishes with bacteria on them. He accidentally sneezed on one of the dishes and it was sprayed with mucus. He was going to remove it, but he was curious to see what would happen. So he left the mucus on the dish and he later examined it. Alec discovered the mucus had dissolved the bacteria and killed it. Alec tried the same experiment with tears. He studied the human and animal samples and all the samples had the bacteria-killing substance. He called the substance a lysozyme.


Three Questions

  • What made you invent penicillin?
  • If you could experiment to create other vaccines , what would they be called and what would they treat?
  • How did you feel when people were using penicillin?

Rowland, J. (1957). The Penicillin Man.New York: Roy Publishers.