The Norman Heatley Lecture
This annual lecture is held in honour of Norman Heatley, who was a pivotal member of the team that developed penicillin in the early 1940s. He has often been described as the unsung hero of the penicillin story.
Norman Heatley graduated in Natural Sciences in 1933 at St John’s College, Cambridge, and stayed on to do research for a PhD in Biochemistry. Soon afterwards he was invited to come to Oxford to work with Chain and Florey. Heatley had a genius for invention. He devised a new assay that measured the activity of penicillin, established appropriate conditions under which penicillin was stable, and pioneered a multi-stage technique to isolate it from the culture fluid and concentrate it. As succinctly up summed by Sir Henry Harris, ‘without Fleming, no Chain or Florey; without Chain, no Florey; without Florey, no Heatley; without Heatley, no penicillin.’