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September 5, 2022 44 min

The development of penicillin started – but definitely did not end – with the chance discovery of some mold in a petri dish. There is so much more to the story.


  • Bernard, Diane. “How a miracle drug changed the fight against infection during World War II.” Washington Post. 7/11/2020.
  • British Library. “Inventor(s) of the month, Alexander Fleming and the story of Penicillin.” 7/28/2021.
  • Chain, E. et al. “Penicillin as a Chemotherapeutic Agent.” The Lancet. Vol. 236, Issue 6104. 8/24/1940.
  • Fleming A. On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillium, with Special Reference to their Use in the Isolation of B. influenzæ. Br J Exp Pathol. 1929 Jun;10(3):226–36. PMCID: PMC2048009.
  • Gaynes, Robert. “The Discovery of Penicillin—New Insights After More Than 75 Years of Clinical Use.” Emerg Infect Dis. 2017 May; 23(5): 849–853..
  • Lee, Victoria. “Microbial Transformations.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, SEPTEMBER 2018, Vol. 48, No. 4. Via JSTOR.
  • National Museums of Scotland. “Culture Vessel.”
  • Quinn, Roswell. “Rethinking Antibiotic Research and Development: World War II and the Penicillin Collaborative.” American Journal of Public Health | March 2013, Vol 103, No. 3.
  • Scibilia, Anthony Julius. “Being Prometheus in 1943:: Bringing Penicillin to the Working Man.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies , Vol. 80, No. 3 (Summer 2013).
  • Science History. “Alexander Fleming.” 12/5/2017.
  • Science Museum. “How Was Penicillin Developed?” 2/23/2021.
  • Shama, Gilbert. “’Déjà Vu’ – The Recycling of Penicillin in Post-liberation Paris.” Pharmacy in History , 2013, Vol. 55, No. 1 (2013). Via JSTOR.
  • The Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum, London, UK. “The Discovery and Development of Penicillin 1928-1945.” 11/19/1999.
  • Wainwright, Milton. “Moulds in Folk Medicine.” Folklore , 1989, Vol. 100, No. 2 (1989).
  • Wainwright, Milton. “The History of the Therapeutic Use of Crude Penicillin.” Medical History, 1987, 31: 41-50.
  • Williams KJ. The introduction of 'chemotherapy' using arsphenamine - the first magic bullet. J R Soc Med. 2009 Aug;102(8):343-8. doi: 10.1258/jrsm.2009.09k036. PMID: 19679737; PMCID: PMC2726818.
  • Wood, Jonathan. “Penicillin: The Oxford Story.” Oxford News Blog. 7/16/2010.
  • Zaffiri, Lorenzo et al. “History of Antibiotics. From Salvarsan to Cephalosporins.” Journal of Investigative Surgery, 25, 67–77, 2012.

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