Sir Howard Florey

Essay by TangelaJunior High, 8th grade May 2007

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Sir Howard Walter Florey (1898-1968) was a distinguished man of science who changed the world for the better. He is an excellent candidate for the "Great Australian Hall of Fame" for many reasons.

Sir Howard Florey (along with his excellent team of scientist's) enhanced and mass produced penicillin, the world's first antibiotic into a wondrous miracle drug. He did this during the 1930's by experimenting on mould grown on a rockmelon and extracting the anti-bacterial substances produced by it to make a powdery substance. In May 1940 he started what some people call "the most important medical experiment in history". Using six mice infected with streptococci bacteria he gave three the penicillin and left three untreated. The next morning he awoke to find the three untreated mice dead and the three that he did treat were much better. This experiment proved that penicillin helped treat bacterial infections which had been killing people since the light had dawned upon the earth.

This shows that Florey was one of the world's best scientists who deserves to be recognised.

This discovery by Florey helped change the history of the world. It came during World War 2 when thousands of soldiers were being injured and dying from infected wounds. In 1944 Florey produced enough penicillin to give sick allied soldiers some of this miracle drug and it worked fantastically. This drug was said to influence the outcome of the war because it saved so many allied soldiers, that they could outnumber the enemy and take the upper hand at the end of the war. A man who influenced the world so much must be in the Hall of Fame.

Furthermore, Howard Florey's discoveries with penicillin revolutionised medical science by making the world a better and much cleaner place. Before 1944 if people got a cut from a rosebush or a needle and it got infected they would probably have died or maybe lost a limb or would be sick for a very long time. Infections like this were feared like cancer is today, but thanks to penicillin this nightmare dissolved for everyone. We can say thank you to Howard Florey by including him in the Hall of Fame.

Howard Florey is a great role model for the young scholars who will visit the "Great Australian Hall of Fame". As well as being a great student who won a Rhodes Scholarship, he received many prestigious awards for his discovery of penicillin. In 1944 he was knighted by King George VI and given medals by the allied countries of France, UK, USA and Australia. In 1945 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine, along with Alexander Fleming and Ernst Chain and was recognised as a world famous figure! He also received 17 different awards from many universities and was Australia's first President of the Royal Society (1960). In 1965 he was given the title of Baron of Adelaide and the Chancellorship of the Australian National University. The Howard Florey Institute in Victoria was named after him. A man of this quality definitely should be recognised in the Hall of Fame.

Florey was also a good role model for young people. He valued team work and cooperated with his scientific co-workers well. Most importantly he respected and acknowledged their part in his discoveries. He was practical and honest and very enthusiastic about his work and he definitely got the job done. His discovery of penicillin was based at the beginning on luck and chance but he worked hard to make it a reality. Florey was very popular at school and was nicknamed "Floss". He married twice and had two lovely children who he loved as much as his work. A person like Florey would influence children to follow their dreams by showing that working hard pays off. It also shows them that you have to be a nice and caring person as well. Howard Florey must be part of this Hall of Fame.

I believe that Sir Howard Florey hasn't received the recognition that he deserves in Australia as yet. To follow his dream of being a research scientist he had to go overseas to Britain and America so he was better known there. In Australia the Government put his face on a $50 note but it is now out of circulation. They also named a suburb of Canberra after him, but not many people today would know about Florey being a famous scientist. A long time ago he had a stamp with his picture on it and a $1 coin minted at the Australian Mint with his face on it. Every year a medal is given out by the Florey Institute for a great medical discovery, but if you are not in the medical profession you probably won't know who he really is. Since his death in 1968 (at the age of 69) I believe that he has been forgotten by ordinary Australians. He has been lost in the mists of history and my generation doesn't believe that you could ever die from a cut! Howard Florey saved us all from dying because of a cut. Young people need to know about this great man of science. Put him in the Hall of Fame and the mist will be lifted for the young people of Australia.

I truly believe that Howard Florey, a life saving scientist deserves to be in the Australian Hall of Fame; much more than a cricket or swimming champion or a lap winning race car driver. Howard Florey saved millions of lives due to his enhancements of penicillin and is deserving of being in the Hall of Fame. Howard Florey accessed 25/2/05Elselvier Publishing Co: Nobel Lectures Amsterdam 1964Encarta Encyclopaedia: Sir Howard FloreyEncyclopaedia Britannica Florey, Howard Walter>. (accessed 3/3/05)McFarlane Gwynn: Howard Florey The Making of a Great Scientist 1994 SydneyTorok Simon: Maker of the Miracle Mould CSIRO Double Helix Club Magazine