Saturday, January 19, 2013

Florey quickly flees the biology of NRRL Peoria for the chemical comforts of Merck

Howard Florey probably spent no more than a few hours of his whole life in the labs of the NRRL at Peoria, Illinois where most of the fruitful work that gave us the antibiotics revolution was actually done.

Within hours, he had dumped his sidekick Norman Heatley there to toil on the rural farmer-like task of growing penicillin, because Florey preferred much more the urban chemistry-oriented approach of firms like Merck and Squibb and ICL.

Florey was no country hick and disdained 'farming' penicillin

Florey after all had wanted to be part of the then most glamorous part of science( chemistry) and only took up medicine as the easiest way for an Australian to get employment in scientific research (as a medical "doctor" , he hated dealing with patients and in fact, hated dealing with people in general.)

He remained a chemist-manque all his life.

Hence why he avoided doing any hands-on research at NRRL Peoria on increasing the biological yield of penicillin .

He much preferred the chemical synthesis approach of Merck and of its chief scientific consultant, A N Richards, new head of the war  medicine section of the war weapon research organization, the OSRD....

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