The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle
"Admirable, superbly researched . . . perhaps the most exciting tale of science since the apple dropped on Newton's head." —Simon Winchester, The New York Times
Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin in his London laboratory in 1928 and its eventual development as the first antibiotic by a team at Oxford University headed by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain in 1942 led to the introduction of the most important family of drugs of the twentieth century.
Yet credit for penicillin is largely misplaced. Neither Fleming nor Florey and his associates ever made real money from their achievements; instead it was the American labs that won patents on penicillin's manufacture and drew royalties from its sale. Why this happened, why it took fourteen years to develop penicillin, and how it was finally done is a fascinating story of quirky individuals, missed opportunities, medical prejudice, brilliant science, shoestring research, wartime pressures, misplaced modesty, conflicts between mentors and their protégés, and the passage of medicine from one era to the next.
Finally, the true story of the development of a wonder drug
By Paul Tognetti "The real world is so much more... - August 28, 2004
Having little aptitude for the sciences and not being particularly well versed in them either, I am generally somewhat leery of picking up a book on a topic like this. But let me assure everyone that Eric Lax has given the world a very readable book here. "The Mold In Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle" chronicles the fascinating story of the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in his laboratory in England in the late 1920's. While penicillin appeared to offer great promise Fleming would become frustrated with his lack of progress and abandoned his research after just a couple of years. It was about a decade later that Dr. Howard Florey and a team of dedicated scientists including Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley would resume the research at Oxford and ultimately solve the puzzle of how to produce mass quantities of this amazing drug. The impact of penicillin was immediate and undeniable. Penicillin was surely one of the great discoveries of the 20th... read more
A Fountain of Information in a Pot-Boiler of a Story
By A Customer - April 13, 2004
This book covers more than twenty-five years of the quest for a viable bacteria fighter recounting the lives of the major players and further depicting the slow progress of medical invention combating infection through all history. The most critical era of this story, however, is coincidently the most important and harrowing years of the 20th century. The all too real threat of a Nazis invasion of Great Britain served as the backdrop for this story?s most vital moments. Few would argue against the notion that the discovery and creation of Penicillin as a viable life saving medication is the most important medical event of the 20th century. Mr. Lax in a detailed, can?t put it down, page-turner manages to incorporate the nuances of all of the disparate personalities of the main characters whose devotion to their science and unrelenting commitment to the saving of untold millions of lives refuse to be deterred by the often overwhelming obstacles that faced them each day. In this new... read more
Credit Where Credit Is Due
By R. Hardy "Rob Hardy" - September 8, 2004
Most of us, if asked who discovered penicillin, would answer that it was Alexander Fleming. The answer is correct as far as it goes. Most of us would probably also think that having discovered how penicillin could fight infection, Fleming got the word out and manufacture of the miracle drug began, to the benefit of all humankind. The truth is that Fleming discovered the mold's antibiotic potential in 1928, and the drug went nowhere. He was not able to find a way to extract the active component of the mold and so he never made any use of it. He gave up trying in 1935. It was only three years later that a researcher unconnected with Fleming got curious about the mold's potential, and thought it would be worth investigation by his team at Oxford. Credit is given where credit is due in _The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle_ (Henry Holt) by Eric Lax. Without the Oxford researchers, to whom Fleming was unconnected, the benefits of the drug would not... read more