Chapter 11 : Lady Amalia Fleming: Turbulence and Triumph

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Amalia Voureka was a physician, bacteriologist, and Greek Resistance activist who joined the laboratory of Sir Alexander Fleming in 1946 on a scholarship. She had nine research publications between May 1947 and August 1952, four of which were as the single author and three as the first author. Only three were coauthored with Sir Fleming. Her research focus was bacteria and antimicrobial agents. She demonstrated variable endpoints for the bacteriostatic power of streptomycin depending on media used, inoculum size, salt concentration, and atmospheric conditions. She worked on bacterial antibiotic resistance, demonstrating the induction of bacterial variants following chloramphenicol treatment. In another paper, she showed that penicillin-resistant bacteria can be made sensitive by coculture with other organisms that are either penicillin sensitive or insensitive. In a study of staphylococcal strains from the anterior nares of patients, she documented a low rate of penicillin resistance (7.6%). Elsewhere, she showed that toxin production by staphylococci is important for virulence. She determined that bacterial flagella can be critical for movement and not simply attachments resulting from cell distress. She refined and invented new laboratory techniques, improving on flagellar staining. Dr. Voureka married Sir Fleming in 1953, despite a 31-year age difference. Her marriage to Sir Fleming was brief (he died of a heart attack in 1955). She later returned to Greece but was exiled and stripped of her citizenship by the military junta for her political activities. After the junta fell, she returned to Greece and was elected to Parliament in 1977, 1981, and 1985. She died in 1986.

Citation: Freij J, Freij B. 2018. Lady Amalia Fleming: Turbulence and Triumph, p 99-104. In Whitaker R, Barton H (ed), Women in Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819545.ch11
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Figure 1

Lady Amalia Fleming by a bust of her late husband, Sir Alexander Fleming, 1956. The sculpture by E. Roland Bevan (1891–1979) is housed in the library of the Wright-Fleming Institute, St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, United Kingdom.

Citation: Freij J, Freij B. 2018. Lady Amalia Fleming: Turbulence and Triumph, p 99-104. In Whitaker R, Barton H (ed), Women in Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555819545.ch11
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1. Uglow JS (ed) . 1998. Dictionary of Women’s Biography, 3rd ed, p 205 206. Northeastern University Press, Boston, MA.
2. Maurois A . 1959. The Life of Sir Alexander Fleming: Discoverer of Penicillin. E P Dutton & Co, Inc, New York, NY. (Translated from the French by Gerard Hopkins.)
3. Hoffman R, . 2001. Ben May: the quiet philanthropist, p 288 295. In Hoffman R (ed), Back Home: Journeys Through Mobile. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL.
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5. Voureka A . 1948. Sensitization of penicillin-resistant bacteria. Lancet i : 62 65.
6. Voureka A,, Hughes WH . 1949. Frequency of penicillin-resistant staphylococci. BMJ 1 : 395.
7. Voureka A,, Fleming A . 1949. Staining of flagella. J Gen Microbiol 3 : xxiii.
8. Fleming A,, Voureka A,, Kramer IR,, Hughes WH . 1950. The morphology and motility of Proteus vulgaris and other organisms cultured in the presence of penicillin. J Gen Microbiol 4 : 257 269.
9. Voureka A . 1951. Bacterial variants in patients treated with chloramphenicol. Lancet i : 27 28.
10. Voureka A . 1951. Production of bacterial variants in vitro with chloramphenicol and specific antiserum. Lancet i : 29 31.
11. Voureka A . 1952. Induced variations in a penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus. J Gen Microbiol 6 : 352 360.
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13. Brown K . 2004. Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution. Sutton Publishers, Phoenix Mill, United Kingdom.
14. Fleming A . 1973. A Piece of Truth. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.

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