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Louis Pasteur

Biography of Louis Pasteur 1822 - 1895

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Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur discovered that most infectious diseases are caused by germs, known as the "germ theory of disease," it is one of the most important discoveries in medical history.

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"Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind" - Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur - Biography

Louis Pasteur was born in Dole France, married to Marie Laurent and had five children. Three of his children died of typhoid fever, maybe leading to Pasteur's drive to save people from disease. He graduated in 1842 from Besancon College Royal de la Franche with honors in physics, mathematics, Latin, and drawing. Louis Pasteur later attended Ecole Normale to study physics and chemistry, specializing in crystals.

In his early research Pasteur worked with the wine growers of France, helping with the fermentation process to develop a way to pasteurize and kill germs. He was granted U.S. patent 135,245 for "Improvement in Brewing Beer and Ale Pasteurization."

Pasteur then worked within the textile industry finding a cure for a disease affecting silk worms. He also found cures for chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies.

The Pasteur Institute

The Pasteur Institute was opened in 1888. During Louis Pasteur's lifetime it was not easy for him to convince others of his ideas, controversial in their time but considered absolutely correct today. Pasteur fought to convince surgeons that germs existed and carried diseases, and dirty instruments and hands spread germs and therefore disease. Pasteur's pasteurization process killed germs and prevented the spread of disease.

The Germ Theory of Disease

Louis Pasteur's main contributions to microbiology and medicine were;
  • instituting changes in hospital/medical practices to minimize the spread of disease by microbes or germs,
  • discovering that weak forms of disease could be used as an immunization against stronger forms and that rabies was transmitted by viruses too small to be seen under the microscopes of the time,
  • introducing the medical world to the concept of viruses.

Controversy Over Louis Pasteur

A few historians disagree with the accepted wisdom regarding Pasteur and believe that the evidence points to him as being a plagiarizer and fraud of note, and that his research was not at all original.
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