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English - Enterprising People

Enterprising People 6 - Sir Alexander Fleming

Enterprising: (adjective).  Showing initiative and willingness to undertake new projects.


Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 - 1955) was a Scottish biologist and pharmacologist. His best-known achievements are the discovery of the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin. He was knighted and received the Nobel Prize in 1944.

In 1999, Time Magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, and stated: "Penicillin was a discovery that would change the course of history. The active ingredient in it turned out to be an infection-fighting agent of enormous potency. When it was finally recognised for what it was—the most effective life-saving drug in the world—penicillin would alter forever the treatment of bacterial infections. By the middle of the century, Fleming's discovery had spawned a huge pharmaceutical industry, churning out synthetic penicillins that would conquer some of mankind's most ancient scourges, including syphilis, gangrene and tuberculosis".

Fleming was born on 6 August 1881 at a farm near Darvel in East Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the third of the four children of Hugh Fleming.

Fleming went to Loudoun Moor School and Darvel School, and then for two years to Kilmarnock Academy. After working in a shipping office for four years, he inherited some money from an uncle. His older brother, Tom, was already a physician and suggested to his younger sibling that he follow the same career.

Mr S. Sutton

Try Our "Brain Challenge"


Five Questions!

          1. What happens when a person is knighted?
          2. In your own words—why was Fleming seen as an important person?
          3. According to the passage, what exactly is penicillin?
          4. In addition to saving lives, what else started because of penicillin?
          5. Why was Fleming finally able to study medicine? Give reasons for your answer?

Five Words !

Write the following words in your jotter. Look at the words in in a dictionary, or ask an adult to help with their meanings. Write the meaning for each word in your jotter, beside the word.

antibiotic         infection           effective              gangrene            sibling


Research/Personal Investigation

What kind of information does Time Magazine offer?

Find out 3 facts about penicillin

Mr S. Sutton

e-mail : english@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk                                                 tel: 01563 525509

  N. McIlvanney 2011