Skip to main content

Sir Howard Florey OM KBE FRS FAA
, 1985

by Andor Meszaros

cast bronze medallion on wood plaque (support: 24.0 cm x 19.0 cm depth 3.5 cm, sight: diameter 12.5 cm)

Howard Florey, Baron Florey of Adelaide and Marston OM FRS FAA (1898-1968), was a Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society. Florey gained his medical and science qualifications from the University of Adelaide in 1921. As a Rhodes scholar, he proceeded with his research at Oxford, where, in early 1935, he was appointed to the Chair of Pathology. He immediately lobbied for – and obtained - more resources and imported new researchers, setting the pattern of dynamic management was to characterise his career. He took on Ernst Chain, a brilliant German/Russian Jew, and gradually the biochemical laboratory came to focus on penicillin, with Florey later characterising his role as that of ‘general nagger’. Penicillin was produced in sufficient quantities to be used on wounded soldiers, and Florey and Chain - and Alexander Fleming, whom Florey had hardly ever met - won the Nobel Prize jointly in 1945. Three years later, Florey was in Canberra as part of the Academic Advisory Committee to the Australian National University. In the ensuing years he came here often to consult on the development of the ANU and in 1965 he became its third Chancellor. Meanwhile, in 1960, he became President of London’s Royal Society, bringing a fresh informality to Burlington House, reforming procedures for the election of Fellows, and securing funding to pounce on new premises that the RS had sought ineffectually for many years. Nicknamed ‘the bushranger’, Florey was the first Australian to head the Society.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Dr Ray Marginson AM 2001
Accession number: 2001.47