Florey, Howard, Baron Florey, 1898-1968

Howard Walter Florey was born on September 24, 1898, in Adelaide, Australia. He received a degree in medicine from Adelaide University in 1921, then went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and in 1924, attended Cambridge. He spent 1925 traveling in the United States as a Rockefeller traveling fellow and in 1926, married Mary Ethel Reed, with whom he had two children. The next year, he received his Ph.D. from Cambridge. Between 1927 and 1962, Florey held teaching positions at Cambridge, Sheffield, and Oxford, all in pathology. In 1962, he became provost of Queen's College, Oxford. Florey's most significant contribution, however, was the development of penicillin for practical purposes, as a result of which he shared the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1945. Though penicillin had been discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming, it had gone largely unnoticed for over a decade. In 1939, Florey and Dr. Ernst Boris Chain began experiments with a purified form of penicillin and discovered its ability to combatbacterial infections in humans. Their discovery made penicillin available for use during the last two years of the war. In 1944, Florey was knighted and in 1965, he was made life peer, taking the name Baron Florey of Adelaide. He died on February 21, 1968, in Oxford, England.

From the guide to the Howard Walter Florey papers, 1930-1940, (Manuscripts and Archives)


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