Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur bigraphy, stories - French microbiologist and chemist

Louis Pasteur : biography

27 December 1822 – 28 September 1895

Louis Pasteur ( ; December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist who is well known for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases, and his discoveries have saved countless lives ever since. He reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. His medical discoveries provided direct support for the germ theory of disease and its application in clinical medicine. He is best known to the general public for his invention of the technique of treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process now called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch, and is popularly known as the "father of microbiology".

Pasteur also made significant discoveries in chemistry, most notably on the molecular basis for the asymmetry of certain crystals and racemization. He was the Director of the Pasteur Institute, established in 1887, till his death, and his body lies beneath the institute in a vault covered in depictions of his accomplishments in Byzantine mosaics.

Honours and final days

Pasteur was frequently struck by strokes since 1868, and the one in 1894 severely impaired his health. Failing to fully recover from the shock, he died in 1895, near Paris. He was given a state funeral and was buried in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, but his remains were reinterred in a crypt in the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he is engraved with his life-saving works.

He was awarded the prize of 1,500 francs in 1853 by the Pharmaceutical Society for the synthesis of racemic acid. In 1856 the Royal Society of London presented him the Rumford Medal for his discovery of the nature of racemic acid and its relations to polarized light, and the Copley medal in 1874 for his work on fermentation. The French Academy of Sciences awarded him the Montyon Prizes in 1859 for experimental physiology, and the Jecker Prize in 1861 and the Alhumbert Prize in 1862 for his experimental refutation of spontaneous generation. Though he lost election in 1857 for membership to the French Academy of Sciences, he won it in 1862 in mineralogy section, and was appointed to permanent secretary of the physical science section of the academy in 1887. In 1967 he was elected to the Académie Nationale de Médecine. He was elected to Littré’s seat at the Académie française in 1881.

In 1873 he was made the commander in the Brazilian Order of the Rose.

Pasteur won the Leeuwenhoek medal, microbiology’s highest Dutch honor in Arts and Sciences, in 1895. Both the Institute Pasteur and Université Louis Pasteur were named after him.

He was made a Chevalier or Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1853, promoted to Commander in 1868, to Grand Officer in 1878 and made a Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor – one of only 75 in all of France – in 1881.

On June 8, 1886, the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II awarded Pasteur with the Order of the Medjidie (I Class) and 10000 Ottoman liras.Sevan Nişanyan: Yanlış Cumhuriyet İstanbul: Kırmızı Yayınları 2009, S. 263.

Professional career

Pasteur was appointed to the Chair of chemistry in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Strasbourg. In 1854, Pasteur was named Dean of the new Faculty of Sciences at Lille University. It was on this occasion that Pasteur uttered his oft-quoted remark: "dans les champs de l’observation, le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés" (In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.L. Pasteur, "Discours prononcé à Douai, le 7 décembre 1854, à l’occasion de l’installation solennelle de la Faculté des lettres de Douai et de la Faculté des sciences de Lille" (Speech delivered at Douai on December 7, 1854 on the occasion of his formal inauguration to the Faculty of Letters of Douai and the Faculty of Sciences of Lille), reprinted in: Pasteur Vallery-Radot, ed., Oeuvres de Pasteur (Paris, France: Masson and Co., 1939), vol. 7, .) In 1856, he moved to Paris as the director of scientific studies at the École Normale Supérieure. Pasteur took control of the ‘École Normale’ (1858–67) and began a series of reforms. The examinations became more rigid, which led to better results, greater competition, and increased prestige. He raised the standard of scientific work, leading to two serious student revolts. In 1862 he was appointed professor of geology, physics, and chemistry at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the position which held untill his resignation in 1867. He established the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1887 in which he was its Director for the rest of his life.