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Honoring a Pioneer: Alexander Fleming

"Nature makes penicillin; I just found it." Indeed, Alexander Fleming's discovery of Penicillin was a product of serendipitous events, far more than scientific planning and intent. Sir Alexander Fleming was born in 1881 at Lochfield, a farm outside Darvel, a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the third child, with seven other brothers and sisters. He completed his education at Regent Street Polytechnic, in London in 1897, and several years later, he went to St. Mary Hospital to study medicine where he continued to work after graduation. During the First World War in 1914, Fleming joined the British Royal Army Medical Corps to develop a cure to reduce the number of soldiers dying from infected wounds. He argued that antiseptics were not effective in preventing wounds from becoming infected. His argument was, however, rejected and little was done to relieve the suffering of many wounded soldiers. Alexander Fleming was no stranger to chance discoveries. In 1922, Fleming discovered lysozyme when his nose leaked into a petri dish and killed the bacteria he was researching. Fleming concluded that the natural enzyme found in tears and nasal mucus helps the body fight germs. Possibly the luckiest scientist in the history of the world, Fleming's most famous discovery came with a similar story of chance. On a September morning in 1928, Alexander Fleming sat at his work bench at St. Mary's Hospital after having just returned from a vacation with his family. Before he had left on vacation, Fleming had piled a number of his Petri dishes to the side of the bench so that someone else could use his work bench while he was away. Fleming was sorting through the long unattended stacks and placing the contaminated dishes in a tray of Lysol. His work was interrupted by a visit from a former lab assistant, and while complaining about the amount of extra work he had since the assistant's departure, Fleming pulled out several Petri dishes from the tray not yet submerged in the disinfectant. While picking up one particular dish to show the assistant, Fleming noticed that the mold that had grown inside it had killed the bacteria sample. The mold that had contaminated the experiment turned out to contain a powerful antibiotic, penicillin. However, though Fleming was credited with the discovery, it was over a decade before someone else turned penicillin into the miracle drug for the 20th century. We chose to honor Alexander Fleming with our own traditional and professional Medelita Men's Fleming lab coat. With a flattering lapel and collar and functional pockets throughout, the 30" Fleming lab coat is ideal for professionals who wear a consultation-length or student-length lab coat. The Fleming lab coat also boasts breathable, 100% cotton pre-shrunk DuPont™ certified performance fabric that repels fluid, soil, and stains – including blood, while helping to maintain the bright white coat color that signifies prestige and professionalism. A perfect blend of quality and functionality. Learn more about the Fleming lab coat.