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Medicine Through Time – Antibiotics, 1920-2000

5. Resistance

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In this module, we look at how antibiotic resistance has spread throughout the world. Antibiotic discovery has failed to keep pace with the ever-increasing number of so called “superbugs”, like MRSA. Measures to curb resistance have slowed the spread of resistant bacteria but the issue of resistance is still one of the greatest threats in medicine today.


In this course, Dr Robert Bud (Science Museum, London) examines the history of antibiotics. We take a look at what medicine and medicines were like before the discovery of antibiotics. We then look at the discovery of penicillin and how it was mass produced in the 1940s. We then look at the growth in the number of other antibiotics and how this went hand in hand with the development of the pharmaceutical industry. In the penultimate module, we take a closer look at antibiotic resistance and how this affects the world today. In the concluding module, we examine the impact of antibiotics on medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and public attitudes towards germs and illness.


Dr. Robert Bud is Emeritus Keeper at The Science Museum in London. He has written widely on the history of science, with a particular in interest in the history of antibiotics. His book, Penicillin: Triumph and Tragedy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2007.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bud, R. (2021, September 22). Medicine Through Time – Antibiotics, 1920-2000 - Resistance [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bud, R. "Medicine Through Time – Antibiotics, 1920-2000 – Resistance." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Sep 2021,

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