Biography of Louis Pasteur
Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France on December 27, 1822. His family was poor and during his early education, he was an average student who enjoyed art and singing. In 1838, Louis went to college to become a science teacher. He earned degrees in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. He then became a chemistry professor at the University of Strasbourg. While at the University he fell in love with the daughter of the university’s rector, Marie Laurent. He and Marie married in 1849. They had five children, however, three died young from typhoid fever. It was the deaths of his children that drove Louis to investigate infectious diseases to find a cure. He died in 1895 from a stroke. He was buried in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France.
- Bacteria and Germ Theory: This was a major discovery in the study of biology and earned Pasteur the nickname the “Father of Germ Theory.” During Pasteur’s time, people believed that microbes such as bacteria appeared due to “spontaneous generation.” They thought that the bacteria just appeared out of nowhere. Pasteur ran experiments to see if this was true. Through his experiments, he proved that germs (i.e. bacteria) were living things that came from other living things. They didn’t just spontaneously appear.
- Pasteurization: Pasteur used his knowledge of germs to investigate how beverages such as wine and milk were spoiled by microbes such as bacteria and molds. He found that heating the liquids would kill most of the microbes and allow the beverages to last longer and be safer to drink. This process became known as pasteurization and is still done on many foods such as milk, vinegar, wines, cheese.
- Silk Worms: As Pasteur learned more and more about bacteria, he began to think they may be the cause of disease in humans. When the French silk market was threatened by disease to silkworms, Pasteur decided to investigate. He discovered that this disease was caused by microbes. By eliminating the microbes from the silkworm farms, he was able to end the disease and save the French silk business.
- Vaccinations: Pasteur continued to investigate diseases. He found that he could make a weak form of a disease that would cause people to become immune to the stronger form of the disease. He called this weak form a “vaccine.” He first discovered this by working with cattle on the disease anthrax. The first vaccine he gave to a human was the rabies vaccine.