Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Sir Howard Walter Florey
Born: 24 September 1898, Adelaide, Australia
Died: 21 February 1968, Oxford, United Kingdom
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. Howard Florey, Ernst Boris Chain, 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.