ON THIS DAY: 15 September 1928: Discovery of Penicillin

Scottish biologist and bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin while studying influenza. At the time, Fleming was experimenting with the influenza virus in the Laboratory of the Inoculation Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

Fleming returned from a two-week vacation to find that a mold had developed on an accidentally contaminated staphylococcus culture plate. Upon examination of the mold, he noticed that the culture prevented the growth of staphylococci.

Published reports credit Fleming as saying: “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for. When I woke up 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.”

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