THE discovery of penicillin transformed medicine and now 75 years on from the first human trial a special display is being put on.

Back from the Dead, at The Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University, explores the progression of antibiotics since the historic discovery by Alexander Fleming in 1928, as well as looking at contemporary challenges in medicine.

The exhibition showcases the efforts of Oxford researchers who conducted the first clinical trials of the drug.

The museum’s director Dr Silke Ackermann said: “Back from the Dead brings together past science with contemporary medical challenges in a novel way, revealing an extraordinary Oxford story and the human face of research in dramatic times.”

The exhibition will explore current responses to the challenge of antibiotic resistance. This includes a collaboration with a team from the Oxford Martin School Programme on collective responsibility for infectious disease.

Visitors will have an opportunity to contribute to current research on antibiotics through interactive questionnaires.

In addition to its contemporary dimension, Back from the Dead also highlights the work of Oxford researchers responsible for penicillin’s transformation from promise to success.

An international team led by Professor Howard Florey and based at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford isolated the antibiotic and conducted the first clinical trials.

Back from the Dead draws on the Museum’s own collections to highlight the hand-to-mouth character of research in the early days of the Second World War.

Crucial work to determine the structure of penicillin was also carried out in Oxford by Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin and a small team of x-ray crystallographers in the 1940s.

Still the only British woman to receive a Nobel Prize for science, Hodgkin’s work is revealed in the exhibition both by her molecular model-making and the insights of her personal correspondence.

The exhibition also includes work of bio-artist Anna Dumitriu, who creates artwork through the direct use of bacteria and has spoken out on issues of microbial resistance.

The exhibition will be combined with a programme of public events, education work and digital resources.

Visitors to the museum will be able to see the exhibition up until May 21.

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