Book Review – The Mould in Dr Florey’s Coat by Eric Lax

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When I used to think of Penicillin, I automatically thought only of the man who is widely credited with it’s discovery and development; Sir Alexander Fleming.  Not any more.

Alexander Fleming has totally dominated the claims to Penicillin triumph; in my daughter’s school there is even a house named after him.  He famously received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine in 1945 “for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases”.

But there were 2 others who shared that prize – Ernst Chain and Howard Florey.  Before reading this book I had vaguely heard of Chain but certainly never Howard Florey, an Australian scientist working in Oxford.

This book offers a differering historical emphasis to the usual one on Fleming.   It details the fascinating story of Florey (and others) who had such an important part to play in the development of Penicillin that arguably, without them, it would have taken much much longer to have been developed into a useable form, if at all.

A fascinating read.  Would definitely recommend.


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