Institut Pasteur Nobel Prize Winners

Nobel Prize MedalOne single building for vaccination treatment and research work, and where Pasteur and his family were housed, began the humble beginnings of the Institut Pasteur in 1887. There were initially five "microbial" departments where five scientists with very different training and personalities gathered around Pasteur to learn and tackle the mysteries of disease. This same community of scientists -- Pasteurians -- who, after having trained at the Institut Pasteur, were scattered across the globe to study and work on discovering better treatments, therapies, and cures for all of society. They, in turn,  established the International Network which today still operates on the principles originally taught in Paris. For their efforts in changing the course of discovery, and improving and saving lives, Institut Pasteur scientists have been awarded 10 Nobel Prizes since 1900. Here are their stories.

1907 | 1908 | 1919 | 1928 | 1957 | 1965 | 2008

The 1907 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Charles Louis Alphonse LaveranCharles Louis Alphonse Laveran, b. 1885 d. 1922: “In recognition of his work on the role played by protozoa in causing diseases” Laveran discovered the malaria hematozoa. 

Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1907
Protozoa as Causes of Diseases

My scientific colleagues of the Caroline Institute having done me the very great honour of awarding me the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year for my work on diseases due to Protozoa, the regulations of the Nobel Foundation oblige me to give a summary of my main researches on this question. Read whole lecture.

The 1908 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Ilya Metchnikoff: The 1908 Nobel Prize in Physiology or MedicineIlya Metchnikoff, b. 1845 d. 1916: “In recognition of his work on immunity” Metchnikoff discovered phagocytes and phagocytosis, as well as the concept of cellular immunity. 

Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1908
On the Present State of the Question of Immunity in Infectious Diseases

I am here before you by virtue of paragraph 9 of the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation, which states that "it shall be incumbent on a prize-winner, whenever this is possible, to give a public lecture on a subject connected with the work for which the prize has been awarded, such a lecture to be given within six months of Commemoration Day, in Stockholm". Read whole lecture.

The 1919 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Jules BordetJules Bordet, b. 1870 d. 1961" “In recognition of his discoveries relating to immunity” Bordet demonstrated the role of anticorps and their pre-immunization counterparts.

Jules Bordet - Biographical

Jules Bordet was born in Soignies, Belgium, on June 13, 1870. Hewas educated in Brussels where he graduated as Doctor of Medicine in 1892. In 1894 he went to Paris to work at the Pasteur Institute until 1901 when he returned to Belgium to found the Pasteur Institute, Brussels. He has been Director of the Belgian Institute since its inception (honorary since 1940) and Professor of Bacteriology, University of Brussels, since 1907 (honorary since 1935). Read whole biography.

The 1928 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Charles Jules Henri NicolleCharles Jules Henri Nicolle, b. 1866 d. 1936: “In recognition of his work on typhus” Nicolle discovered the role played by the body louse in the transmission of typhus.

Nobel Lecture
Investigations on Typhus

I am going to give you an account of how I arrived at the results for which I have received the Nobel Prize for Medicine. I shall also summarize these results.

It did not seem likely that I was destined to undertake research on typhus. I was born, first studied medicine and undertook my first research work in a French province from which typhus had disappeared since 1814. It is true that I came across a few imported cases at Rouen in 1889. They made no particular impression on me. Read whole lecture.

The 1957 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Daniel BovetDaniel Bovet, b. 1907 d. 1992: “In recognition of his discoveries relating to synthetic compounds that inhibit the action of certain body substances, and especially their action on the vascular system and the skeletal muscles” Bovet discovered antihistamines and the pharmacology of curare.

Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1957
The relationships between isosterism and competitive phenomena in the field of drug therapy of the autonomic nervous system and that of the neuromuscular transmission

Putting to good use the vast possibilities which organic synthesis offers, a number of workers have directed their efforts towards applying it to thera- peutics, and have sought to establish the bases of a science of pharmaceutical chemistry, or, more exactly perhaps, the bases of a science of chemical pharmacology worthy of this name. If such an ambitious programme has not yet been fully realized, we are at least justified in recognizing, in the work which has now been in progress for fifty years, the appearance of a few guiding principles whose value has not ceased to assert itself. This is particularly true, for example, in the case of ideas in isosterism and competition. Read whole lecture.

The 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

François Jacob, b. 1920
André Lwoff, b. 1902 d. 1994
Jacques Monod, b. 1910 d. 1976

“In recognition of their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis”
They explained the control of gene expression.

Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1963
Interaction among Virus, Cell, and Organism

François Jacob André Lwoff Jacques Monod
An organism is an integrated system of interdependent structures and functions. An organism is constituted of cells, and a cell consists of molecules which must work in harmony. Each molecule must know what the others are doing. Each one must be capable of receiving messages and must be sufficiently disciplined to obey. You are familiar with the laws which control regulation. You know how our ideas have developed and how the most harmonious and sound of them have been fused into a conceptual whole which is the very foundation of biology and confers on it its unity.

For the philosopher, order is the entirety of repetitions manifested, in the form of types or of laws, by perceived objects. Order is an intelligible relation. For the biologist, order is a sequence in space and time. However, according to Plato, all things arise out of their opposites. Order was born of the original disorder, and the long evolution responsible for the present biological order necessarily had to engender disorder.

An organism is a molecular society, and biological order is a kind of social order. Social order is opposed to revolution, which is an abrupt change of order, and to anarchy, which is the absence of order.

I am presenting here today both revolution and anarchy, for which I am fortunately not the only one responsible. However, anarchy cannot survive and prosper except in an ordered society, and revolution becomes sooner or later the new order. Viruses have not failed to follow the general law. They are strict parasites which, born of disorder, have created a very remarkable new order to ensure their own perpetuation.

For very many years, a group of eminent researchers have devoted their activity to the study of viral order. My own work simply prolongs a long chain of discoveries and ideas. I intend to discuss certain aspects of the relations between virus and cell and between virus and organism, and specifically the interaction between viral and cellular metabolism. I shall attempt to trace the development and evolution of the concepts, their ontogeny and phylogeny.

Read whole lecture.

The 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, b. 1947
Luc Montagnier, b. 1932

“In recognition of their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus” Examining retroviruses in 1983, they were first to isolate and identify the virus that causes AIDS

Nobel Lecture, December 7, 2008
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
HIV: A Discovery Opening the Road to Novel Scientific Knowledge and Global Health Improvement

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

The story begins more than twenty-five years ago, when the initial clinical observations of a alarming new epidemic were made. In June 1981 clini- cians in the United States first reported a number of cases of Pneumocystis carinii in homosexual men1. Subsequently the first cases of what would later be known as AIDS were observed in France. At the time, I was working at the Institut Pasteur with Luc Montagnier and Jean-Claude Chermann. In December 1982, we were contacted by clinicians in France who provided us with a lymph node biopsy from an AIDS patient, with the aim of isolating the etiological agent causing the disease. Read whole lectiure. [PDF]

Nobel Lecture, December 8, 2008
Luc Montagnier
25 Years After HIV Discovery: Prospects for Cure and Vaccine

Luc Montagnier

The impressive advances in our scientific knowledge during the last century allow us to have a much better vision of our origin on earth and our situation in the universe than our ancestors. Life probably started on earth around three and a half billion of years ago, and a genetic memory emerged early, based on an extraordinarily stable molecule, the DNA double helix, bearing a genetic code identical for all living organisms, from bacteria to men. We are thus the heirs of myriads of molecular inventions, which have accumu- lated over millions – sometime billions – of years. Environmental pressure has of course both maintained these inventions and also modulated them over the generations, through the deaths of individuals and sexual reproduc- tion. For the last 30,000 years, our biological constitution has not changed: a hypertrophic cortical brain, a larynx to speak and a hand to manipulate. But for the last 10,000 years, another memory has emerged, which make our species quite different from the others: this is the cultural memory which transmits knowledge and societal organisation from generation to genera- tion, through the use of language, writing and more recently virtual means of communication. Read whole lecture. [PDF]