The medicinal potential of penicillin was accidentally discovered by the Scottish scientist Alexander Flemming in 1928The chemical structure of penicillin was worked out using X-ray crystallography by the Oxford research scientist Dorothy Hodgkin who took up the problem in 1942. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 in recognition of her discovery.
The model gives a three dimensional map of part of one of the crystal salts of penicillin. The contours are lines of electron density and show the positions of individual atoms in the structure. The diagram shows two schematic views of the structure.
Penicillin antibiotics are historically significant because they are the first drugs that were effective against many previously serious diseases such as syphilis and other bacterial infections. Penicillins are still widely used today, though many types of bacteria are now resistant.
The medicinal potential of penicillin was accidentally discovered by the Scottish scientist Alexander Flemming in 1928