|Born||Howard Walter Florey
24 September 1898
Adelaide, South Australia
|Died||21 February 1968 (aged 69)
Oxford, United Kingdom
|Alma mater||University of Adelaide, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge|
|Known for||Discovery of penicillin's properties|
|Notable awards||Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1945)|
Howard Walter Florey, Baron Florey, OM, FRS (24 September 1898 – 21 February 1968) was an Australian pharmacologist and pathologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Sir Ernst Boris Chain and Sir Alexander Fleming for his role in the making of penicillin. Florey's discoveries are estimated to have saved over 6 million lives. Florey is regarded by the Australian scientific and medical community as one of its greatest scientists. Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, said that "in terms of world well-being, Florey was the most important man ever born in Australia".
Howard Florey was the youngest of 5 children. His father John Florey was an English immigrant, and his mother Bertha Mary Florey was a third generation Australian. He was born in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1898. He was educated at Kyre College Preparatory School and then St Peter's College, Adelaide, where he was a brilliant academic and junior sportsman. He studied medicine at the University of Adelaide from 1917 to 1921. At the university he met Ethel Reed, another medical student, who became both his wife and his research colleague. A Rhodes Scholar, he continued his studies at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving the degrees of BA and MA. In 1926 he was elected to a fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and a year later he received the degree of PhD from the University of Cambridge.
After periods in the United States and at Cambridge, he was appointed to the Joseph Hunter Chair of Pathology at the University of Sheffield in 1931. In 1935 he returned to Oxford, as Professor of Pathology and Fellow of Lincoln College, leading a team of researchers. In 1938, working with Ernst Boris Chain and Norman Heatley, he read Alexander Fleming's paper discussing the antibacterial effects of Penicillium notatum mould.
In 1941, they treated their first patient, Albert Alexander, who had been scratched by a rose thorn and was now suffering from severe facial infections. His whole face, eyes and scalp were swollen to the extent that he had had an eye removed to relieve some of the pain. Within a day of being given penicillin, he started recovering. However, the researchers did not have enough penicillin to help him to a full recovery, and he relapsed and died. Because of this experience, the researchers changed their focus to children, who did not need such large quantities of penicillin.
Florey's research team investigated the large-scale production of the mould and efficient extraction of the active ingredient, succeeding to the point where, by 1945, penicillin production was an industrial process for the Allies in World War II. However, Florey held that the project was originally driven by scientific interests, and that the medicinal discovery was a bonus:
People sometimes think that I and the others worked on penicillin because we were interested in suffering humanity. I don't think it ever crossed our minds about suffering humanity. This was an interesting scientific exercise, and because it was of some use in medicine is very gratifying, but this was not the reason that we started working on it.—Howard Florey, Baron Florey, 
Developing penicillin was a team effort, as these things tend to be—Howard Florey, Baron Florey
Florey shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Ernst Boris Chain and Alexander Fleming. Fleming first observed the antibiotic properties of the mould that makes penicillin, but it was Chain and Florey who developed it into a useful treatment.
While he considered himself to be an agnostic, he was not aggressive in his disbelief.
He was openly concerned about the population explosion resulting from improving healthcare, and was a staunch believer in contraception.
After the death of his wife Ethel, he married his long-time colleague and research assistant Dr. Margaret Jennings in 1967. He died of a heart attack in 1968 and was honoured with a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, London. He was quite a lady's man and remarried a year after his wife's death.
He was awarded the Lister Medal in 1945 for his contributions to surgical science. The corresponding Lister Oration, given at the Royal College of Surgeons of England later that year, was titled "Use of Micro-organisms for Therapeutic Purposes".
Florey was elected president of the Royal Society in 1958
In 1962, Florey became Provost of The Queen's College, Oxford. During his term as Provost, the college built a new accommodation block, named the Florey Building in his honour. The building was designed by the British architect Sir James Stirling.
He was made a life peer in 1965 as Baron Florey, of Adelaide in the State of South Australia and Commonwealth of Australia and of Marston in the County of Oxford. This was a higher honour than the knighthood awarded to penicillin's discoverer, Sir Alexander Fleming, and it recognised the monumental work Florey did in making penicillin available in sufficient quantities to save millions of lives in the war, despite Fleming's doubts that this was feasible.
Florey was Chancellor of the Australian National University from 1965 until his death in 1968. The lecture theater at the John Curtin School of Medical Research was named for him during his tenure at the ANU.
Posthumous honours 
Florey's portrait appeared on the Australian $50 note for 22 years (1973–95), and the suburb in perth is named after him. The Howard Florey Institute, located at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, and the largest lecture theatre in the University of Adelaide's medical school are also named after him. In 2006, the federal government of Australia renamed the Australian Student Prize, given to outstanding high-school leavers, the "Lord Florey Student Prize", in recognition of Florey.
The "Lord Florey Chair" in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sheffield is named in his honour.
- Woodward, Billy. "Howard Florey-Over 6 million Lives Saved." Scientists Greater Than Einstein. Fresno: Quill Driver Books, 2009 ISBN 1-884956-87-4.
- ONE DOLLAR SILVER PROOF 1998 Howard Florey. sterlingcurrency.com.au
- V. Quirke, Howard Walter Florey
- Bright Sparcs – Australasian Science article: Howard Florey
- Judson, Horace Freeland (20 October 2003). "No Nobel Prize for Whining". The New York Times (NYTimes). Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- Trevor Illtyd Williams (1984). Howard Florey, Penicillin and After. Oxford University Press. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-19-858173-4. "As an agnostic, the chapel services meant nothing to Florey but, unlike some contemporary scientists, he was not aggressive in his disbelief."
- The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1945. nobelprize.org
- "Sir Howard Florey, F.R.S.: Lister Medallist". Nature 155 (3942): 601. 1945. doi:10.1038/155601b0.
- Florey, H. W. (1945). "Use of Micro-organisms for Therapeutic Purposes". Br Med J. 2 (4427): 635–42. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4427.635. PMC 2060276. PMID 20786386.
- Sexual Health Department. royalberkshire.nhs.uk
Further reading 
- Karl Grandin, ed. (1945). "Howard Florey Biography". Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- Ligon, B Lee (April 2004). "Sir Howard Walter Florey—the force behind the development of penicillin". Seminars in pediatric infectious diseases 15 (2): 109–14. doi:10.1053/j.spid.2004.04.001. PMID 15185195.
- Fenner, Frank (1996). "Florey, Howard Walter (Baron Florey) (1898–1968)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. vol. 14. pp. 188–190. Retrieved 2008-10-10. Unknown parameter
- Florey, Howard (Lord) (1898–1968) National Library of Australia, Trove, People and Organisation record for Howard Walter Florey
- Papers at the Royal Society.
- Howard Walter Florey
- Booknotes interview with Eric Lax on The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle, 2 May 2004.