Louis Pasteur against Disease – Biography of scientist Louis Pasteur


French Chemist and Microbiologist, Famous for Pasteurization

Biography of scientist Louis Pasteur who pioneered the theory that germs cause disease, known for Pasteur Effect.

Louis Pasteur (December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was born in Dole, France. He came from a family of tanners. As a child, it was apparent to his teachers that he was academically inclined. He was also a keen artist.

At 21, Pasteur was admitted to the fine Parisian training college, the École Normale Supérieure. He became a master of science in 1845, and two years later, he presented a thesis on crystallography earning him a doctorate.

Early Career of Pasteur

Pasteur’s prestigious academic background and ground-breaking research into physical chemistry immediately gained him a professorship in the science faculty at the University of Strasbourg where he met his future wife, Marie Laurent, the daughter of the university rector. They were married in 1849 and had five children.

Pasteur Young Scientist and Teacher

After six years in Strasbourg, Pasteur moved to Lille. He held the firm belief that the theoretical and practical aspects of science should work hand in hand. He held evening classes to teach young working men in Lille. He also began working on the process of fermentation. In 1857, one of his early achievements was to show that yeasts could reproduce in the absence of oxygen. This is now known as the Pasteur Effect.

Pasteur Experiments and Research

In 1857, he returned to École Normale where he continued research on fermentation with unusual experimental finding – that the process was driven by the activity of minute organisms. Ten years later, Emperor Napoleon III granted him a research laboratory which enabled him to focus study over the spontaneous generation issue – whether germs and micro-organisms can just ‘appear’ out of nowhere. He found that germs were transported in air and food decomposed being exposed to air.


In 1862, Pasteur first tested the process, what is known now as pasteurization, by which milk and other liquids are heated to remove bacteria. This process revolutionized the way food is prepared, stored and sold, saving people from infection. He also applied his work to French vinegar and wine industries, and to the British beer industry.

The most important vaccination he produced was against rabies. He took a risky and dramatic action saving the life of a boy bitten by a rabid dog, but he was successful.

Breakthroughs after Pasteur

From the 1860s, it was a result of Pasteur’s suggestion that Joseph Lister began adopting antiseptic methods during operation.

In 1895, the year of Pasteur’s death from a series of strokes, other scientists followed paving the way for improvements in the treatment of internal injuries. Some of these them include Alexander Fleming (penicillin), Dean Dausset (immunology), and Wilhelm Roentgen (X-rays).

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