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Ernst Chain—Nobel Prize for Work on Penicillin

      Ernst Boris Chain, a German-born biochemist, shared the 1945 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology with pathologist Howard W. Florey (1898–1968) and bacteriologist Alexander Fleming (1881–1955) “for the discovery of penicillin and its curative value in a number of infectious diseases.” Chain was primarily responsible for chemically characterizing penicillin, which made it easier to design methods of purification and synthesis. Florey developed the methods that made penicillin available for widespread medical use. Although Fleming is credited with discovering penicillin, a French military physician, Ernest Duchesne (1874–1912), actually discovered it in 1896 when he demonstrated that Penicillium glaucum inhibited the growth of bacteria. Fleming provided the name penicillin and, with the help of Florey and Chain, convinced the world of its great therapeutic value. The pioneering work of Chain, Florey, and Fleming marked the beginning of the antibiotic era.
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