The Info List - Howard Florey

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Howard Walter Florey, Baron Florey, OM, FRS, FRCP (24 September 1898 – 21 February 1968) was an Australian pharmacologist and pathologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
in 1945 with Sir Ernst Chain
Ernst Chain
and Sir Alexander Fleming
Alexander Fleming
for his role in the development of penicillin. Although Fleming received most of the credit for the discovery of penicillin, it was Florey who carried out the first ever clinical trials in 1941 of penicillin at the Radcliffe Infirmary
Radcliffe Infirmary
in Oxford
on the first patient, a constable from Oxford. The patient started to recover but subsequently died because Florey was unable, at that time, to make enough penicillin. It was Florey and Chain who actually made a useful and effective drug out of penicillin, after the task had been abandoned as too difficult. Florey's discoveries, along with the discoveries of Alexander Fleming and Ernst Chain, are estimated to have saved over 200 million lives,[4] and he is consequently regarded by the Australian scientific and medical community as one of its greatest figures. Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, said, "In terms of world well-being, Florey was the most important man ever born in Australia".[5]


1 Early life and education 2 Career 3 Honours and awards

3.1 Posthumous honours

4 Personal life 5 In popular culture 6 References 7 Further reading

Early life and education[edit] Howard Florey
Howard Florey
was the youngest of three children and the only son.[6] His father, Joseph Florey, was an English immigrant, and his mother Bertha Mary Florey was a third-generation Australian.[7] He was born in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1898. Howard Florey
Howard Florey
was educated at Kyre College Preparatory School (now Scotch College) and then St Peter's College, Adelaide, where he was a brilliant academic and junior sportsman. He studied medicine at the University of Adelaide
from 1917 to 1921. At the university, he met Ethel Reed (Mary Ethel Hayter Reed), another medical student, who became both his wife and his research colleague. The marriage was unhappy, due to Ethel's poor health and Florey's intolerance.[8] Florey continued his studies at Magdalen College, Oxford
as a Rhodes Scholar, receiving the degrees of BA and MA. In 1926, he was elected to a fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and a year later he received the degree of PhD from the University of Cambridge.

Flasks used in the cultivation of penicillin mould for large-scale production. One of the first flasks (centre) made using a biscuit tin. Ceramic flasks (rear) were used in production of penicillin. (Historical Collections, National Museum of Health and Medicine, M-722.10002, M-722.10003 and M-722.10227)

Career[edit] After periods in the United States and at Cambridge, Florey was appointed to the Joseph Hunter Chair of Pathology
at the University of Sheffield in 1931. In 1935 he returned to Oxford, as Professor of Pathology
and Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, leading a team of researchers. In 1938, working with Ernst Boris Chain, Norman Heatley and Edward Abraham, he read Alexander Fleming's paper discussing the antibacterial effects of Penicillium notatum mould. In 1941, he and Chain treated their first patient, Albert Alexander, who had had a small sore at that corner of his mouth, which then spread leading to a severe facial infection involving Streptococci and Staphylococci.[9] His whole face, eyes and scalp were swollen to the extent that he had had an eye removed to relieve some of the pain. Within a day of being given penicillin, he started recovering. However, the researchers did not have enough penicillin to help him to a full recovery, and he relapsed and died. Because of this experience and of the difficulty in producing penicillin, the researchers changed their focus to children, who could be treated with smaller quantities. Florey's research team investigated the large-scale production of the mould and efficient extraction of the active ingredient, succeeding to the point where, by 1945, penicillin production was an industrial process for the Allies in World War II. However, Florey said that the project was originally driven by scientific interests, and that the medicinal discovery was a bonus:

People sometimes think that I and the others worked on penicillin because we were interested in suffering humanity. I don't think it ever crossed our minds about suffering humanity. This was an interesting scientific exercise, and because it was of some use in medicine is very gratifying, but this was not the reason that we started working on it. — Howard Florey, [10]

Developing penicillin was a team effort, as these things tend to be — Howard Florey

Florey shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
in 1945 with Ernst Boris Chain
Ernst Boris Chain
and Alexander Fleming. Fleming first observed the antibiotic properties of the mould that makes penicillin, but it was Chain and Florey who developed it into a useful treatment.[11] In 1958 Florey opened the John Curtin School of Medical Research
John Curtin School of Medical Research
at ANU in Canberra. In 1965 the Queen made him Lord Florey and he was offered, and accepted, the role of Chancellor of the Australian National University. Honours and awards[edit] On 18 July 1944 Florey was appointed a Knight Bachelor.[12][13] In 1947 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society
Royal Society
of Medicine.[14] He was awarded the Lister Medal
Lister Medal
in 1945 for his contributions to surgical science.[2] The corresponding Lister Oration, given at the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Royal College of Surgeons of England
later that year, was titled "Use of Micro-organisms for Therapeutic Purposes".[15] In 1946, the University of Sao Paulo
University of Sao Paulo
awarded him an honorary doctorate.[16]

Florey Building

Florey was elected a member of the Royal Society
Royal Society
in 1941 and became president in 1958.[1] In 1962, Florey became Provost of The Queen's College, Oxford. During his term as Provost, the college built a new residential block, named the Florey Building in his honour. The building was designed by the British architect Sir James Stirling. On 4 February 1965, Sir Howard was created a life peer and became Baron Florey, of Adelaide
in the State of South Australia
South Australia
and Commonwealth of Australia and of Marston in the County of Oxford.[17] This was a higher honour than the knighthood awarded to penicillin's discoverer, Sir Alexander Fleming, and it recognised the monumental work Florey did in making penicillin available in sufficient quantities to save millions of lives in the war, despite Fleming's doubts that this was feasible. On 15 July 1965 Florey was appointed a Member of The Order of Merit.[18] Florey was Chancellor of the Australian National University
Australian National University
from 1965 until his death in 1968. The lecture theatre at the John Curtin School of Medical Research was named for him during his tenure at the ANU. Posthumous honours[edit]

Australian $50 note in circulation 1973–95

Florey's portrait appeared on the Australian $50 note for 22 years (1973–95), and the suburb of Florey in the Australian Capital Territory is named after him. The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, located at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, and the largest lecture theatre in the University of Adelaide's medical school are also named after him. In 2006, the federal government of Australia renamed the Australian Student Prize, given to outstanding high-school leavers, the "Lord Florey Student Prize", in recognition of Florey. The Florey Unit [19] of the Royal Berkshire Hospital
Royal Berkshire Hospital
in Reading, Berkshire, is named after him. The "Lord Florey Chair" in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sheffield is named in his honour. Personal life[edit] After the death of his wife Ethel, he married in 1967 his long-time colleague and research assistant Margaret Jennings (1904-1994). He died of a heart attack in 1968 and was honoured with a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, London. Florey was an agnostic.[20] In popular culture[edit] "Breaking the Mould" is a 2009 historical drama that tells the story of the development of penicillin in the 1930s/40's, by the group of scientists at Oxford
headed by Florey at The Dunn School of Pathology. The film stars Dominic West
Dominic West
(as Florey), Denis Lawson, and Oliver Dimsdale; directed by Peter Hoar and written by Kate Brooke. References[edit]

^ a b Abraham, E. P. (1971). "Howard Walter Florey. Baron Florey of Adelaide
and Marston 1898-1968". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 17: 255–302. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1971.0011. PMID 11615426.  ^ a b "Sir Howard Florey, F.R.S.: Lister Medallist". Nature. 155 (3942): 601. 1945. doi:10.1038/155601b0.  ^ Todman, Donald (2008). " Howard Florey
Howard Florey
and research on the cerebral circulation". Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. Elsevier. 15: 613–616. doi:10.1016/j.jocn.2007.04.017. His mentor was the neurophysiologist and Nobel Laureate, Sir Charles Sherrington
Charles Sherrington
who directed him in neuroscience research. Florey’s initial studies on the cerebral circulation represent an original contribution to medical knowledge and highlight his remarkable scientific method. The mentorship and close personal relationship with Sherrington was a crucial factor in Florey’s early research career.  ^ Woodward, Billy. "Howard Florey-Over 6 million Lives Saved." Scientists Greater Than Einstein Fresno: Quill Driver Books, 2009 ISBN 1-884956-87-4. ^ Fenner, Frank (1996). "Florey, Howard Walter (Baron Florey) (1898–1968)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. vol. 14. Melbourne University Press. pp. 188–190. Retrieved 10 October 2008.  ^ P43 The Mold in Dr Flory's Coat by Eric Lax. ^ V. Quirke, Howard Walter Florey ^ Fenner, Frank. "Mary Ethel Hayter Florey". Australian Dictionary of Biography.  ^ MacFarlane, Gwyn (1979). "The proving of penicillin". Howard Florey : the making of a great scientist. Oxford: Oxford
Univ. Pr. pp. 327–346. ISBN 9780198581611.  ^ Bright Sparcs – Australasian Science article: Howard Florey ^ Judson, Horace Freeland (20 October 2003). "No Nobel Prize for Whining". The New York Times. NYTimes. Retrieved 23 June 2010.  ^ "No. 36620". The London Gazette. 21 July 1944. pp. 3415–3416.  ^ The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1945. nobelprize.org ^ Moore, George. The Creators.  ^ Florey, H. W. (1945). "Use of Micro-organisms for Therapeutic Purposes". BMJ. 2 (4427): 635–642. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4427.635. PMC 2060276 . PMID 20786386.  ^ Honorary Doctorates between the decades of 1940s and 1950s from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil ^ "No. 43571". The London Gazette. 9 February 1965. p. 1373.  ^ "No. 43713". The London Gazette. 16 July 1965. p. 6729.  ^ Sexual Health Department Archived 21 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. royalberkshire.nhs.uk ^ Trevor Illtyd Williams (1984). Howard Florey, Penicillin
and After. Oxford
University Press. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-19-858173-4. As an agnostic, the chapel services meant nothing to Florey but, unlike some contemporary scientists, he was not aggressive in his disbelief. 

Further reading[edit]

York, Barry (September 2001). " Howard Florey
Howard Florey
and the development of penicillin". National Library of Australia
National Library of Australia
News. XI (12): 18–20. Archived from the original on 2012-01-20. 

Academic offices

Preceded by John Cockcroft Chancellor of the Australian National University 1965 – 1968 Succeeded by H. C. Coombs

v t e

Copley Medallists (1951–2000)

David Keilin
David Keilin
(1951) Paul Dirac
Paul Dirac
(1952) Albert Kluyver
Albert Kluyver
(1953) E. T. Whittaker
E. T. Whittaker
(1954) Ronald Fisher
Ronald Fisher
(1955) Patrick Blackett (1956) Howard Florey
Howard Florey
(1957) John Edensor Littlewood (1958) Frank Macfarlane Burnet
Frank Macfarlane Burnet
(1959) Harold Jeffreys
Harold Jeffreys
(1960) Hans Adolf Krebs
Hans Adolf Krebs
(1961) Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
(1962) Paul Fildes
Paul Fildes
(1963) Sydney Chapman (1964) Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
(1965) Lawrence Bragg
Lawrence Bragg
(1966) Bernard Katz (1967) Tadeusz Reichstein
Tadeusz Reichstein
(1968) Peter Medawar
Peter Medawar
(1969) Alexander R. Todd
Alexander R. Todd
(1970) Norman Pirie (1971) Nevill Francis Mott (1972) Andrew Huxley
Andrew Huxley
(1973) W. V. D. Hodge
W. V. D. Hodge
(1974) Francis Crick
Francis Crick
(1975) Dorothy Hodgkin
Dorothy Hodgkin
(1976) Frederick Sanger
Frederick Sanger
(1977) Robert Burns Woodward
Robert Burns Woodward
(1978) Max Perutz
Max Perutz
(1979) Derek Barton (1980) Peter D. Mitchell
Peter D. Mitchell
(1981) John Cornforth
John Cornforth
(1982) Rodney Robert Porter
Rodney Robert Porter
(1983) Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
(1984) Aaron Klug
Aaron Klug
(1985) Rudolf Peierls
Rudolf Peierls
(1986) Robin Hill (1987) Michael Atiyah
Michael Atiyah
(1988) César Milstein
César Milstein
(1989) Abdus Salam
Abdus Salam
(1990) Sydney Brenner
Sydney Brenner
(1991) George Porter
George Porter
(1992) James D. Watson (1993) Frederick Charles Frank
Frederick Charles Frank
(1994) Frank Fenner (1995) Alan Cottrell
Alan Cottrell
(1996) Hugh Huxley (1997) James Lighthill
James Lighthill
(1998) John Maynard Smith
John Maynard Smith
(1999) Alan Battersby (2000)

v t e

Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


1901 Emil Behring 1902 Ronald Ross 1903 Niels Finsen 1904 Ivan Pavlov 1905 Robert Koch 1906 Camillo Golgi
Camillo Golgi
/ Santiago Ramón y Cajal 1907 Alphonse Laveran 1908 Élie Metchnikoff
Élie Metchnikoff
/ Paul Ehrlich 1909 Emil Kocher 1910 Albrecht Kossel 1911 Allvar Gullstrand 1912 Alexis Carrel 1913 Charles Richet 1914 Róbert Bárány 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 Jules Bordet 1920 August Krogh 1921 1922 Archibald Hill
Archibald Hill
/ Otto Meyerhof 1923 Frederick Banting
Frederick Banting
/ John Macleod 1924 Willem Einthoven 1925


1926 Johannes Fibiger 1927 Julius Wagner-Jauregg 1928 Charles Nicolle 1929 Christiaan Eijkman
Christiaan Eijkman
/ Frederick Gowland Hopkins 1930 Karl Landsteiner 1931 Otto Warburg 1932 Charles Scott Sherrington
Charles Scott Sherrington
/ Edgar Adrian 1933 Thomas Morgan 1934 George Whipple
George Whipple
/ George Minot
George Minot
/ William Murphy 1935 Hans Spemann 1936 Henry Dale / Otto Loewi 1937 Albert Szent-Györgyi 1938 Corneille Heymans 1939 Gerhard Domagk 1940 1941 1942 1943 Henrik Dam
Henrik Dam
/ Edward Doisy 1944 Joseph Erlanger
Joseph Erlanger
/ Herbert Gasser 1945 Alexander Fleming
Alexander Fleming
/ Ernst Chain
Ernst Chain
/ Howard Florey 1946 Hermann Muller 1947 Carl Cori / Gerty Cori
Gerty Cori
/ Bernardo Houssay 1948 Paul Müller 1949 Walter Hess / António Egas Moniz 1950 Edward Kendall / Tadeusz Reichstein
Tadeusz Reichstein
/ Philip Hench


1951 Max Theiler 1952 Selman Waksman 1953 Hans Krebs / Fritz Lipmann 1954 John Enders / Thomas Weller / Frederick Robbins 1955 Hugo Theorell 1956 André Cournand / Werner Forssmann
Werner Forssmann
/ Dickinson W. Richards 1957 Daniel Bovet 1958 George Beadle / Edward Tatum
Edward Tatum
/ Joshua Lederberg 1959 Severo Ochoa
Severo Ochoa
/ Arthur Kornberg 1960 Frank Burnet / Peter Medawar 1961 Georg von Békésy 1962 Francis Crick
Francis Crick
/ James Watson
James Watson
/ Maurice Wilkins 1963 John Eccles / Alan Hodgkin / Andrew Huxley 1964 Konrad Bloch / Feodor Lynen 1965 François Jacob
François Jacob
/ André Lwoff / Jacques Monod 1966 Francis Rous / Charles B. Huggins 1967 Ragnar Granit
Ragnar Granit
/ Haldan Hartline / George Wald 1968 Robert W. Holley
Robert W. Holley
/ Har Khorana / Marshall Nirenberg 1969 Max Delbrück
Max Delbrück
/ Alfred Hershey
Alfred Hershey
/ Salvador Luria 1970 Bernard Katz / Ulf von Euler
Ulf von Euler
/ Julius Axelrod 1971 Earl Sutherland Jr. 1972 Gerald Edelman
Gerald Edelman
/ Rodney Porter 1973 Karl von Frisch
Karl von Frisch
/ Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Lorenz
/ Nikolaas Tinbergen 1974 Albert Claude
Albert Claude
/ Christian de Duve
Christian de Duve
/ George Palade 1975 David Baltimore
David Baltimore
/ Renato Dulbecco
Renato Dulbecco
/ Howard Temin


1976 Baruch Blumberg / Daniel Gajdusek 1977 Roger Guillemin / Andrew Schally
Andrew Schally
/ Rosalyn Yalow 1978 Werner Arber
Werner Arber
/ Daniel Nathans
Daniel Nathans
/ Hamilton O. Smith 1979 Allan Cormack / Godfrey Hounsfield 1980 Baruj Benacerraf / Jean Dausset
Jean Dausset
/ George Snell 1981 Roger Sperry / David H. Hubel
David H. Hubel
/ Torsten Wiesel 1982 Sune Bergström
Sune Bergström
/ Bengt I. Samuelsson / John Vane 1983 Barbara McClintock 1984 Niels Jerne / Georges Köhler / César Milstein 1985 Michael Brown / Joseph L. Goldstein 1986 Stanley Cohen / Rita Levi-Montalcini 1987 Susumu Tonegawa 1988 James W. Black / Gertrude B. Elion
Gertrude B. Elion
/ George H. Hitchings 1989 J. Michael Bishop
J. Michael Bishop
/ Harold E. Varmus 1990 Joseph Murray
Joseph Murray
/ E. Donnall Thomas 1991 Erwin Neher
Erwin Neher
/ Bert Sakmann 1992 Edmond Fischer / Edwin G. Krebs 1993 Richard J. Roberts
Richard J. Roberts
/ Phillip Sharp 1994 Alfred G. Gilman
Alfred G. Gilman
/ Martin Rodbell 1995 Edward B. Lewis
Edward B. Lewis
/ Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
/ Eric F. Wieschaus 1996 Peter C. Doherty
Peter C. Doherty
/ Rolf M. Zinkernagel 1997 Stanley B. Prusiner 1998 Robert F. Furchgott
Robert F. Furchgott
/ Louis Ignarro
Louis Ignarro
/ Ferid Murad 1999 Günter Blobel 2000 Arvid Carlsson
Arvid Carlsson
/ Paul Greengard
Paul Greengard
/ Eric Kandel


2001 Leland H. Hartwell / Tim Hunt
Tim Hunt
/ Paul Nurse 2002 Sydney Brenner
Sydney Brenner
/ H. Robert Horvitz / John E. Sulston 2003 Paul Lauterbur
Paul Lauterbur
/ Peter Mansfield 2004 Richard Axel
Richard Axel
/ Linda B. Buck 2005 Barry Marshall
Barry Marshall
/ Robin Warren 2006 Andrew Fire / Craig Mello 2007 Mario Capecchi
Mario Capecchi
/ Martin Evans
Martin Evans
/ Oliver Smithies 2008 Harald zur Hausen
Harald zur Hausen
/ Luc Montagnier
Luc Montagnier
/ Françoise Barré-Sinoussi 2009 Elizabeth Blackburn
Elizabeth Blackburn
/ Carol W. Greider
Carol W. Greider
/ Jack W. Szostak 2010 Robert G. Edwards 2011 Bruce Beutler
Bruce Beutler
/ Jules A. Hoffmann / Ralph M. Steinman (posthumously) 2012 John B. Gurdon
John B. Gurdon
/ Shinya Yamanaka 2013 James Rothman
James Rothman
/ Randy Schekman
Randy Schekman
/ Thomas C. Südhof 2014 John O'Keefe / May-Britt Moser
May-Britt Moser
/ Edvard Moser 2015 William C. Campbell / Satoshi Ōmura
Satoshi Ōmura
/ Tu Youyou 2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi 2017 Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, Michael W. Young

v t e

Chancellors of Australian National University

Stanley Bruce
Stanley Bruce
(1951) John Cockcroft
John Cockcroft
(1961) Baron Florey (1965) H. C. Coombs
H. C. Coombs
(1968) John Crawford (1976) Richard Blackburn (1984) Gordon Jackson (1987) Geoffrey Yeend (1990) Peter Baume (1994) Allan Hawke (2006) Kim Beazley
Kim Beazley
(2009) Gareth Evans (2010)

v t e

Presidents of the Royal Society

17th century

Viscount Brouncker (1662) Joseph Williamson (1677) Christopher Wren
Christopher Wren
(1680) John Hoskyns (1682) Cyril Wyche
Cyril Wyche
(1683) Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
(1684) Earl of Carbery (1686) Earl of Pembroke (1689) Robert Southwell (1690) Charles Montagu (1695) Lord Somers (1698)

18th century

Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
(1703) Hans Sloane
Hans Sloane
(1727) Martin Folkes
Martin Folkes
(1741) Earl of Macclesfield (1752) Earl of Morton (1764) James Burrow
James Burrow
(1768) James West (1768) James Burrow
James Burrow
(1772) John Pringle
John Pringle
(1772) Joseph Banks
Joseph Banks

19th century

William Hyde Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston
(1820) Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
(1820) Davies Gilbert
Davies Gilbert
(1827) Duke of Sussex (1830) Marquess of Northampton (1838) Earl of Rosse (1848) Lord Wrottesley (1854) Benjamin Collins Brodie (1858) Edward Sabine
Edward Sabine
(1861) George Biddell Airy
George Biddell Airy
(1871) Joseph Dalton Hooker
Joseph Dalton Hooker
(1873) William Spottiswoode
William Spottiswoode
(1878) Thomas Henry Huxley
Thomas Henry Huxley
(1883) George Gabriel Stokes (1885) William Thomson (1890) Joseph Lister
Joseph Lister

20th century

William Huggins
William Huggins
(1900) Lord Rayleigh (1905) Archibald Geikie
Archibald Geikie
(1908) William Crookes
William Crookes
(1913) J. J. Thomson
J. J. Thomson
(1915) Charles Scott Sherrington
Charles Scott Sherrington
(1920) Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford
(1925) Frederick Gowland Hopkins
Frederick Gowland Hopkins
(1930) William Henry Bragg
William Henry Bragg
(1935) Henry Hallett Dale
Henry Hallett Dale
(1940) Robert Robinson (1945) Edgar Adrian (1950) Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
(1955) Howard Florey
Howard Florey
(1960) Patrick Blackett (1965) Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
(1970) Lord Todd (1975) Andrew Huxley
Andrew Huxley
(1980) George Porter
George Porter
(1985) Sir Michael Atiyah
Michael Atiyah
(1990) Sir Aaron Klug
Aaron Klug

21st century

Robert May (2000) Martin Rees (2005) Sir Paul Nurse
Paul Nurse
(2010) Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

v t e

James Smithson Medal
James Smithson Medal

1965: Howard Florey 1968: Edgar P. Richardson 1976: Elizabeth II 1979: Pope John Paul II 1986: Warren E. Burger 1991: Julie Johnson Kidd 1994: Robert McCormick Adams Jr. 1999: Ira Michael Heyman 2015: G. Wayne Clough

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 20520673 LCCN: n83312471 ISNI: 0000 0000 8362 9613 GND: 120773945 SELIBR: 187063 SUDOC: 073464880 BNF: cb16616357g (data) NLA: 35910717 NDL: 00620668 NKC: nlk20000079403 BNE: XX1271