Culture vessel for Penicillin

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Postcard of Culture vessel for Penicillin.
© National Museums Scotland

Culture vessel for Penicillin

This culture vessel for the batch production of penicillin was designed by Dr N. J. Heatley, and used by the Oxford research team. Racks of vessels were kept at a constant temperature in the laboratory for 14 days before the mould filtrate was harvested.

This is a rectangular slip cast ceramic vessel, made by James MacIntyre in Burslem in 1940. Penicillin mould had been grown most successfully in hospital bedpans at the Oxford laboratory, and the shape is modelled on this practical observation.

Sir Alexander Fleming, 1881-1955, identified a mould which killed bacteria. By 1940 Howard Florey and Ernst Chain had refined this mould into penicillin, an effective antibiotic. The drug saved thousands of lives during World War II, 1939-1945.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-913-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0088: Innovators and Innovations (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1989.101
Date: 1940
Material: Ceramic
Dimensions: 225 mm x 55 mm x 280 mm
What: Culture vessel
Who: Dr N.J. Heatley (designer)
James MacIntyre, Burslem (maker)
Where: England, Staffordshire, Burslem
Description: Ceramic culture vessel for the batch production of penicillin, made by James MacIntyre in 1940, to the design of Dr N.J. Heatley
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