Sir Alexander Fleming’s contribution to the world of medicine cannot be understated. A deserving Nobel Prize winner, Fleming discovered penicillin and changed the way in which treatment to various diseases and infections is administered.
Like many other prominent scientists, leaders, and pioneers, Alexander Fleming was also a Freemason, and his lifetime achievements coincided with his exploration of the Craft.
Fleming was native to the west of Scotland
Alexander Fleming was born in Lochfield, Ayrshire in August 1881, not far from the birthplace of Brother Robert Burns. He attended school at Kilmarnock Academy before moving to London, where he worked in a shopping office before attending the medical school at St Mary’s Hospital.
He trained as a doctor at the London school and qualified with distinction in 1906. His research at the University of London was disrupted by World War I, during which he served as a captain in the Army Medical Corps. By the end of the war, he returned to his research at St Mary’s.
He was interested in ‘natural bacterial action
Fleming’s research was interested in exploring the natural bacterial action of blood in antiseptics. By 1928, he discovered that mold had developed on a set of dishes he was using in his lab, which created a bacteria-free circle around itself. He would go onto name the substance as penicillin.
With the help of scientists Howard Florey and Ernst Chan, penicillin was further developed so it could be produced as a drug. By the 1940s, penicillin was being mass produced in America and began to change the way that infections were treated.
The awards began to flow after his discovery
It wasn’t long before Fleming was widely recognized and awarded for his life-changing discovery. In 1944, he was given a knighthood by the queen, and he was made emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of London in 1948.
He went onto receive doctorates and degrees from more than 25 European and American universities, and he shared the Nobel Prize with Florey and Chan in 1945.
Brother Alexander Fleming
Following his move south, Alexander Fleming became interested in Freemasonry during his studies at St Mary’s College in London. He was initiated into Sancta Maria Lodge No 2682 in London in 1909. He served as a Past Junior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1942.
After his remarkable contribution to science and medicine, brother Alexander Fleming passed away on 11 March 1955. He is buried at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
We’re constantly in awe of the contributions that Masons have had throughout history. Fleming’s discovery of penicillin ranks as one of the most significant medical feats of the twentieth century, and the fact that he was a Mason is a source of great pride for the fraternity.