Paper 2, penicillin the discovery and development

the background information for history ocr paper 2 on the discovery and development of penicillin

the discovery- Flemming

Discovered penicillin by chance

  • left some dirty petri dishes when he went on holiday with some bacteria in them
  • when he returened he saw mould had grown, around the mould the bacteria had disappeared.
  • found that penicillin could kill bacteria without harming other cells, used it to treat a scientists eye infection but couldn't get it to work on deeper wounds.
  • took a long time to grow enough to use and lots was needed to treat a patient.
  • he wrote some notes on his discovery in the medical journal, but left it as that because no one was interested as he didn't test it.
  • he never developed penicillin; he only discovered it.
1 of 4

Florey and chain, research, developed penicillin

  • read flemmings article on penicillin and realised it could be useful, so they tried to get funding from the british government but they only got £25.
  • government reluctant to fund because

             - war about to start needed money and factories to make weapons

             - no proof it could cure people

  • Florey asked for funding from US government and got enough for 5 years research
  • proved it helped mice to recover from infections, but realised they needed more to cure a human. It was hard to mass produce as it took a long time and lots was needed. British drug producers couldn't afford to produce so much.
  • They managed to grow enough to treat a patient with blood posioning, the patient started to recover, but they didn't have enough to premantly cure the patient, so he died.
2 of 4


  • Britain couldn't mass produce penicillin as they needed the factories to produce weapons instead
  • Florey and chain went to America in 1941 just after America joined the war.
  • Us government realised importance of Penicillin and provided factories and funding needed for developing penicillin on a larger scale.
  • Later on the British government saw the importance of Penicillin and so they started to mass produce it too.
3 of 4



  • flemming discovered penicillin by chance
  • he found it when he wasn't looking of it
  • he didn't clean up the petri dishes, so mould grew.


  • gave us government a reason to fund the development and mass production
  • Later encoraged British government to fund the development
  • Us government gave money for research and factories for development


  • Flemming had the talent and observation skills to discover penicillin in the first place
  • Florey and chain worked together to purify and develop penicillin
4 of 4


no name


very good!

no name


very good!

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Medicine through time (OCR History A) resources »