Louis Pasteur's biography

Louis Pasteur’s life was filled with revolutionary discoveries and also marked by a number of events that likely fueled his desire to understand the diseases of his time. A tireless and dedicated scientist, he traveled extensively throughout France to prove his theories and solve agricultural and industrial problems caused by infectious diseases.



1822 : December 27. Birth of Louis Pasteur in Dole (Jura).


1827: His family moved to Arbois.

He produced his first pastel drawing at the age of 13.


1831: Louis Pasteur was a pupil at Arbois Collège.


1839: Left to study at the Collège Royal in Besançon.


1840: Received his Bachelier ès lettres (Arts diploma) in Besançon.

Teaching assistant at the Collège in Besançon.


1842: Received his Bachelier ès Sciences mathématiques (Mathematics diploma) in Dijon.


1843: Admitted to the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (4th place).


1845: Earned his degree in science.


1846: Appointed physics teacher at the Lycée de Tournon (Ardèche) but stayed on at the École Normale Supérieure as assistant professor.

Met Auguste Laurent in Antoine Balard’s laboratory. Studied crystals.


1847: Earned his doctorate in science.


1848: Appointed physics teacher at the Lycée de Dijon then substitute chemistry teacher at the Science Faculty in Strasbourg.

Research on dimorphism.

Historical paper on the two forms of sodium ammonium paratartrate.


1849: Louis Pasteur married Marie Laurent, daughter of the rector of Strasbourg University.

Research on the specific properties of the two constituent acids of racemic acid.


1850: Birth of his daughter Jeanne (died in 1859).


1851: Birth of his son Jean-Baptiste.

Louis Pasteur’s paper on aspartic and malic acids.


1852: New research on the possibility of a relationship between crystalline form, chemical composition and the direction of rotatory polarization.


1853: Birth of his daughter Cécile (died in 1866).

Louis Pasteur was named Chevalier of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honor.

He was awarded the Paris Pharmacy Society Prize for his synthesis of racemic acid.

Memorandum on the discovery of the transformation of tartaric acid into racemic acid. Discovery of inactive tartaric acid.


1854: Louis Pasteur was appointed Dean of the Science Faculty in Lille.


1855: Beginning of studies on fermentation. Presentation of a paper on amyl alcohol in Lille.


1856: Beginning of research on alcohol fermentation.


1857: Appointed administrator and director of scientific studies at the École Normale Supérieure.

Paper on lactic fermentation.

Paper on alcohol fermentation.


1858: Birth of his daughter Marie-Louise.

Set up his laboratory in the attic of the École Normale Supérieure in Rue d’Ulm, Paris.

Beginning of research on spontaneous generation.


1859: Experimental Physiology Prize from the Science Academy for his work on fermentation.


1860: Air samples collected in Arbois to study spontaneous generation. Investigation of the doctrine of spontaneous generation.


1861: Awarded the Jecker Prize by the Science Academy for his research on fermentation. Publication of his findings on vinegar in the Paris Chemistry Society bulletin.


1862: Elected to the Science Academy (mineralogy section).

Study of the role of mycoderma in acetic fermentation.

Awarded the Alhumbert Prize for his research on spontaneous generation.


1863: Birth of his daughter Camille (died in 1865).

Napoleon III requested Louis Pasteur to study wine diseases.

Research on wine and the effect of oxygen in air on the winemaking process.

Appointed professor of applied geology, physics and chemistry at the École des Beaux-Arts.


1864: Set up a laboratory for his wine research in Arbois.


1865: Filed a patent for a process used to preserve and improve wine by moderate heating in anaerobic conditions, which came to be known as pasteurization.

Research on silkworm diseases.


1866: Publication of "Studies on wine". Publication of an essay on the scientific work of Claude Bernard.


1867: Set up a physiological chemistry laboratory at the École Normale Supérieure.

Appointed professor of organic chemistry at the Sorbonne.

Awarded the Grand Prix at the Universal Exposition for his research on wine.

Resigned from his administrative duties at the École Normale Supérieure.


1868: Degree of Doctor of Medicine honoris causa from the University of Bonn.

Made a Commander of the Legion of Honor.

Publication of research on vinegar.

Louis Pasteur suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side.


1870: Publication of research on silkworm diseases.


1871: Research on new processes for manufacturing and preserving beer.


1873: Elected to the Academy of Medicine.


1876: Publication of "Studies on beer".


1877: Memorandum on the fermentation of urine.

Research on anthrax.

Research on septicemia.


1878: Made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

Publication of the paper "Germ theory and its applications to medicine and surgery".

Developed the chicken cholera vaccine using an attenuated microbe.

Research on gangrene, septicemia and puerperal fever.


1879: Paper on the plague.

Discovery of immunization using attenuated cultures.

His daughter Marie-Louise married René Vallery-Radot.


1880: Appointed member of the Central Society of Veterinary Medicine.

Paper on virulent diseases (Louis Pasteur established the principle of virus vaccines for the very first time).

Beginning of research on rabies.


1881: Received the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor.

Developed the anthrax vaccine.

Work on yellow fever near Bordeaux.

Elected to the Académie française.


1882: Paper on contagious pleuropneumonia in cattle.

Research on erysipelothrix infection.


1883: Developed the erysipelothrix vaccine with Louis Thuillier.


1884: New papers on rabies.

Paper on pathogenic microbes and attenuated-virus vaccines at the Copenhagen Congress.

Louis Pasteur presented the general principle of vaccination of virulent diseases.


1885: First human rabies vaccination.


1887: Elected Life Secretary of the Science Academy.

Suffered a second attack of paralysis.


1888: Opening of the Institut Pasteur on November 14.


1892: Jubilee celebrated at the Sorbonne on December 27.


1895: Louis Pasteur died in Villeneuve-l’Étang on September 28.

Updated on 28/04/2014


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