Editors Note: This article first appeared in the Daily Mail and is republished here with the permission of Hugh Pennington.
Almost two weeks have passed since news emerged of a Listeria outbreak
Thomas Hugh Pennington, often identified as one of Britain’s best known scientists, received the Lister Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry in 2009 in recognition of his work. The medal is named after Sir Joseph Lister, the British surgeon who first introduced antisepsis -- sterile conditions and infection control -- into routine hospital applications. Sir Joseph pioneered the field of bacteriology in the late 19th Century. The medal was first awarded to Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, in 1944. It has since been awarded a further 14 times to eminent scientists working at the interface of chemistry and medicine.
Pennington was Chair of Bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen from 1979 until his retirement with emeritus status in 2003. Of particular interest has been his work on E.coli 0157 outbreaks and influenza pandemics. He has examined how the treatment of these has been influenced by evolution and history. Professor Russell Howe, chair of chemistry from the University of Aberdeen and chair of the Scotland Section of the Society of Chemical Industry, said: “Professor Pennington is a renowned bacteriologist following in the footsteps of Joseph Lister, and as a media spokesperson he embodies the Society’s goals of relating the chemical sciences to industry, medicine, and the general public."