Ernst Boris Chain
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1945
Born: 19 June 1906, Berlin, Germany
Died: 12 August 1979, Mulrany, Ireland
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases."
Prize share: 1/3
After Alexander Fleming's 1928 discovery that a certain mold produced a substance called penicillin that inhibited the growth of bacteria, it was not a major leap to think that penicillin could be used as a pharmaceutical. However, the substance proved to be unstable and difficult to produce in pure form. Ernst Boris Chain, Howard Florey, and their colleagues succeeded in systematically producing a pure form of penicillin at the beginning of the 1940s and in investigating its properties in more detail. Additional efforts led to a pharmaceutical that could be produced in larger quantities.