History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search


Exhibition Label: 'Back from the Dead: Demystifying Antibioics' 04.11.2016 - 21.05.2017. Dunn School Case. Shelf 3.

When early tests on mice proved effective the Oxford team transformed their laboratory into a penicillin production centre for the first human trials. Special apparatus was devised for the different steps: the pistol (2) removed penicillin-infused fluid from the culture vessels. It can be seen in use in the animation on the right.

Norman Heatley designed a semi-automatic apparatus to continuously extract and purify penicillin from this fluid. The original control panel (3) for this ‘counter current’ apparatus survives; it can be seen in position on the photograph behind. Several more steps were required to create powdered penicillin. The glass bottle (1) was used as part of a separation funnel.

All from the Museum of the History of Science: 1 (inv. 17458), 2 (inv. 30316), 3 (inv. 23310).

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