Penicillin: The Quiet Cultivator

The story of penicillin is well known, as are those Nobel Prize winners who were honoured for their part in its discovery. But one man’s contribution has been overlooked. Malcolm Murfett sets the record straight on the biochemist Norman G. Heatley.

A US army aidman administers penicillin to a casualty in an advertisement of August 1944 from Schenley Laboratories, Indiana. Getty Images/Time Life/Fritz GoroIn life, unlike in the movies, the good guys don’t always win. Modest, unassuming and dignified, Norman Heatley (1911-2004), the gifted biochemist who played a prominent role in the development of penicillin, knew exactly what that old cliché meant. His story deserves to be told because he suffered a grave injustice at the hands of the international scientific community, which denied him the glittering prizes bestowed on those deemed responsible for the discovery of one of the most important drugs of all time.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.