Name/TitlePathology: Petri Dish of Penicillium Notatum
About this objectPetri dish with a subculture of Penicillium notatum created by Sir Alexander Fleming.
The specimen is mounted in a glass petri dish and sealed with white cloth adhesive tape. A white card note, printed with "J.E. McCartney" is adhered to the base, hand written in blue ink: "subculture of the original mould growth observed by Sir Alexander Fleming"
Under the paper label is handwritten “P.Notatum -6-"
This specimen belonged to Dr James McCartney and is part of the McCartney collection of the Heritage Office.
Medium and MaterialsPetri dish glass, tape, paper, bacterial culture
Measurements5 cm diameter x 0.5 cm depth
Subject and Association DescriptionThis item was given to James McCartney by Alexander Fleming. During World War I, James McCartney and Alexander Fleming were believed to have met while serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Their careers in the ensuing decades brought them into regular contact, both were members of the Quekett Microscopical Club. A photo included in the donated McCartney collection illustrates both men at a conference in the United Kingdom during the 1940's.
Several of these samples were given by Alexander Fleming to those who worked as his assistants. Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) investigated the possibility of finding an effective antibiotic substance which would kill bacteria without harming cell tissue. In 1928 he discovered the germ-killing qualities of the mold penicillium notatum but it was not until 1940 in Oxford that Ernst Chain and Howard Florey managed to stabilize and purify penicillin for general use.
Dr McCartney was London County Council’s Director of Research and Pathological Services for 27 years. Dr McCartney and his wife immigrated to Adelaide in 1952, Dr McCartney joined Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science (IMVS), Royal Adelaide Hospital staff as Medical Bacteriologist.
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