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Books, Journals, New Media
October 6, 2004


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA ; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(13):1615-1621. doi:10.1001/jama.292.13.1620

There are dozens of books about the discovery and development of penicillin, the scientists who did the early work, and the subsequent impact of penicillin on medicine, microbiology, and the modern pharmaceutical industry. Most people know only the beginning of the story. In 1929, Alexander Fleming reported that a mold contaminant had lysed bacterial colonies on an old Petri plate. He named the antibacterial substance in the mold broth “penicillin,” showed that it was toxic to a wide variety of bacteria, became frustrated with its chemical instability, and turned his attention to the study of sulfa drugs.

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