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Biographical sketch
Albert Calmette (1863-1933)
version française  
 

French physician and bacteriologist, born on July 12, 1863 in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes, France). His father was a civil servant who made his career in the prefectory corps. His mother, Adèle Charpentier, died two years after the birth of her son. He and his two elder brothers were raised by the second wife of their father, Marie Quiney.
1873-1881 High School studies in successively, Clermont-Ferrand, Brest (where he fell sick with severe typhus) and Paris ; earned his bachelor's degree at Saint-Charles College in Saint-Brieuc (Brittany, France).
1881-1883 Enrollment in medical training at the School of Naval Physicians in Brest, where he attended A. Corre's lectures.
1881-1883 Started to serve in the Naval Medical Corps ; participated in the China campaign (1883-1885) in the French Far East squadron under the command of Admiral Courbet, then in the Gabon-Congo campaign (1886-1887) where he outlined a plan for improving public health in Africa, through the collaboration of both physicians and scientists.
1886 Received his medical degree from the University of Paris.
1888-1890 Assigned to Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon where he conducted research on the red cod.
1890 Obtained authorization to return to Paris, in order to attend a course on microbiology ("cours de microbiologie") at the Institut Pasteur.
1881-1883 Started to serve in the Naval Medical Corps ; participated in the China campaign (1883-1885) in the French Far East squadron under the command of Admiral Courbet, then in the Gabon-Congo campaign (1886-1887) where he outlined a plan for improving public health in Africa, through the collaboration of both physicians and scientists.
1886 Received his medical degree from the University of Paris.
1888-1890 Assigned to Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon where he conducted research on the red cod.
1890 Obtained authorization to return to Paris, in order to attend a course on microbiology ("cours de microbiologie") at the Institut Pasteur.
1891-1894 At the request of the ministry of the colonies ("sous-secrétaire d'état"), he was charged by L. Pasteur to found and direct an immunisation institute in Saigon, French Indochina (which was to be the first branch of the Institut Pasteur outside France) ; there, he organized the production of Jenner's and Pasteur's vaccines against smallpox and rabies, respectively ; conducted research on cholera, dysentery, snake venom, the fermentation of opium and the alcoholic fermentation of rice.
1894-1895 Resigned from the Colonial Health Corps and became an active researcher at the Institut Pasteur in Paris ; resumed his Indochina's studies on anti-venom vaccine and serotherapy ; developed the first anti-venoms for different snake bites using immune sera from vaccinated horses (Calmette's serum) ; took part in the development of an anti-pest serum, in collaboration with A. Borrel and A. Yersin.
1895-1918 Following the visit of a delegation of the hygiene council and the Lille city authorities (Nord, France), L. Pasteur and E. Roux entrusted him with the foundation and the directorship of the Pasteur Institute's branch at Lille, for serotherapy and microbiological research ; The "Institut Pasteur de Lille" was opened in 1899. Commenced research on hookworm, waste water biological treatment (creation of the first French station for waste water treatment in La Madeleine, next to Lille), among other bacteriological investigations. In collaboration with Camille Guérin, conducted research on tubercle bacillus (mechanisms of infection and immune response) ; Calmette and Guérin demonstrated that small doses of injected weakened bovine bacilli could be used as a protective vaccine against tuberculosis, in cattle and different species of monkeys ; attenuation was achieved by cultivating them in a bile-containing substrate ; transferring them in successive cultures resulted in less and less virulent strain of the bacillus ; this preparation received the name of its two discoverers, BCG (short for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin).
1896 Chair of bacteriology and experimental therapy, at the medical school of Lille. Named honorary professor in 1914.
1899 With A. Salimbeni, traveled to Porto (Portugal), where an epidemic of bubonic plague was threatening to spread.
1899 Member of the editorial board of the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, along with : E. Duclaux, Ch. Chamberland, J.-J. Grancher, E. Metchnikoff, Ed. Nocard, E. Roux, I. Straus, L. Vaillard.
1901-1903 Founded the first antituberculosis dispensary in Lille ("dispensaire Emile Roux"). Helped to create the Northern Antituberculosis League (ligue du Nord contre la tuberculose), as well as a branch of the Grancher foundation ("Oeuvre Grancher").
1901-1926 As a delegate of the French government, attended the international sanitory conference and international congress for tuberculosis study.
1910 Mandated by the French ministry of the interior and the superior council of public hygiene to study an epidemic of cholera in Marseille.
1910-1914 At the Paris Institut Pasteur's request, helped to established the Institute branch in Algiers (Algeria) ; in association with Ed. Sergent, served as its first director.
1911 Became a member of the sanatoria medical committee in Paris, directed by L. Guinard.
1912 Became a member of the French Society of Biology (Société de Biologie).
1914 On March 16, his brother Gaston Calmette (editor of the newspaper Le Figaro) was murdered by Henriette Caillaux.
1914-1918 During the First World War, served as assistant director at the health service of Lille and was in charge with the organization of military auxiliary hospitals ; during the four-year lasting occupation of the city by the German army, continued to produce sera and vaccines at the Pasteur Institute in Lille. His wife, as well as some other women in Lille, were held hostage in 1918.
1917 With L. Martin, named assistant director of the Institut Pasteur in Paris and head of the course of bacteriology ; he accepted the position only in 1919.
1919-1933 Rebuilt his team at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and resumed research on the tubercle bacillus and the BCG vaccine. After the successful vaccination of newborn children of parents with tuberculosis, using the BCG vaccine, at the Charité hospital in Paris (with B. Weill-Hallé, 1921), vaccination of newborns was practiced to a large extent.
1919 Elected member of the French Academy of Medicine ; became editorial chief of the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur and head of the overseas Pasteur Institutes.
1920 Published a book titled L'infection bacillaire et la tuberculose. Co-founded the Hellenic Pasteur Institute in Athens (Greece). Named vice-president of the national committee for fight against tuberculosis (CNDT, Comité National de Défense contre la Tuberculose).
1920-1924 Elected president of the French Society of Exotic Pathology (SPE, Société de Pathologie Exotique).
1927 Elected member of the French Academy of Sciences.
1929 Participated in plans for a large building intended to accommodate the whole of tuberculosis research laboratories in the Institut Pasteur of Paris, in which he moved in 1931.
1930-1932 In Lübeck, Germany, 73 vaccinated children died of tuberculosis, due to a contamination of some batches produced in Germany from a BCG strain delivered by the Institut Pasteur ; it was soon proved that such dangers could be eliminated through correct production methods and in 1932, the court declared the vaccination safe ; notwithstanding, Calmette was deeply shaken by the event.
1933 Died in Paris on Oct. 29.

Collaborators : A. Boquet, A. Borrel, E. Boullanger, M. Breton, Constant, L. Costil, E. Couvreur, A. Deléarde, François, Hautefeuille, V. Grysez, C. Guérin, L. Massol, L. Nègre, A. Mézie, G. Petit, E. Rolants, A. Saenz, R. Turpin, Vansteenberghe, D. Verhaege, B. Weill-Hallé, Th. Woehrel, A. Yersin.



 

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