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  • Writer's pictureOxford, what's your story

Story Makers in Oxford - The Story of Peniciillin

For the past few weeks we've been studying story tellers from Oxford. We've enjoyed the adventures of Reepicheep, Bilbo and Ratty and appreciated the creativity in all the authors' writing.

Creativity is not just the preserve of artists and authors. Anyone who develops fresh ideas, solves problems, break boundaries, is creative. And Oxford is full of examples of people who have solved problems. One of the biggest problems facing us is that of disease and Oxford has lots of examples of people who have been creative in meeting this challenge.

One of these challenges was dealing with bacterial infections and this was solved through the 'chance' discovery in a laboratory of mould growing on a petri dish. The mould had let out a liquid which had stopped bacteria on the dish growing. Alexander Fleming who discovered realised that this could be significant in healing infections in people which were caused by bacteria.

The next challenge was to isolate this mould and produce lots more of it. And this was done in Oxford by a team of scientists. You can see a memorial to their work at the Rose Memorial Garden at the Botanic Garden. You can also see a blue plaque at the Radcliffe Infirmary and the Dunn School of Pathology outlining particular creative moments in their work.

Today doctors give us antibiotics if we have a sickness that our body struggles to fight. We also give medicine to animals. There are new challenges facing us now, particularly resistance to antibiotics. You can read more about this here and think about why this is an important new challenge for scientists to solve.

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