Staphylococcus aureus – biography of a bug sometimes super, most often not

Public history of science lecture by Professor Hugh Pennington CBE

MRSA Scanning electron micrograph of a human neutrophil ingesting MRSA (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Event details

Hugh Pennington CBE is Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen.

Thirty percent of us carry Staphylococcus aureus up our noses. Boils and infections after surgery bring it to our attention. Mutant clones are called MRStaphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA. All these things make it important today. 

Attempts in the past to fight Staphylococcus aureus and understand it have led to major discoveries. Nearly 150 years ago it was effectively challenged for the first time by Joseph Lister and his carbolic. It was given its name by the Professor of Greek at Aberdeen University, and was one of the few bacterial species harmful to humans to be described in Britain rather than in Germany during the golden age of bacteriological discovery at the end of the nineteenth century. Aureus refers to its golden colour, and Alexander Fleming’s research to understand this better led to the discovery of penicillin. It evolves in real time, and so we have not finished with it as a significant adversary. This lecture will tell its story. 

This lecture forms part of a series from the Royal College of Pathologists which explores a History of Pathology in 50 Objects:

Attending this event

This event is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required. Doors open at 12.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

We have a limited number of spaces for wheelchair users and ten bookable seats for people with impaired mobility who are unable to queue. To book in advance, please contact the events team. Further information about accessibility is available.

Recorded audio will be available on this page a few days after the event.

Staphylococcus aureus – biography of a bug sometimes super, most often not 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

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For more events please see the events diary.

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