Emile Duclaux (1840-1904)
French chemist and microbiologist, born on June 24, 1840 in Aurillac (Cantal, France). His father was a court bailiff, at Aurillac ; his mother was a grocery shopkeeper.
High school studies at the college in Aurillac, then at the Lycée Saint Louis, in Paris.
1859 Successful candidate in entrance exams for both the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Normale Supérieure ; chose the latter school.
1862 Obtained the highest academic-rank qualification (Agrégation), after passing the French national competitive exam to become a physics professor ; as a research assistant, entered Louis Pasteur's laboratory, at the Ecole Normale Supérieure ; as a collaborator of L. Pasteur, took part in experiments to debunk the myth of spontaneous generation ; in 1863, reported that it is possible to seed the corpuscles in suspension in the air (Sur la germination des corpuscules qui existent en suspension dans l'atmosphère).
1863-1865 Traveled to Arbois (Jura, France) in summer, with D. Gernez and Lechartier, where L. Pasteur was studying the scientific basis of wine-making.
1865 Thesis defense for doctorate in physics, with a dissertation topic about the absorption of ammonia and the production of volatile fatty acids in the alcoholic fermentation : Etudes relatives à l'absorption de l'ammoniaque et à la production d'acides gras volatils dans la fermentation alcoolique ; became initiated into meteorology.
1866 Taught classes in chemistry, at the university of sciences, in Clermont-Ferrand ; with L. Pasteur, conducted research on silkworms diseases, at Pont-Gisquet.
1870-1873 During the war and the Paris Commune, he received L. Pasteur in Clermont, where they commenced research on the brewing of beer, at the brewery Kühn in Chamalières ; taught additional classes at the university of sciences, in Clermont-Ferrand and lectured on Pasteur's germ theory ; studied the laws of liquid flow and developed a basic theory for capillary action.
1873 Married Mathilde Briot, who was the renown mathematician's daughter, with whom he had two sons, Pierre and Jacques.
1873-1878 Traveled to Lyon, where he taught classes in physics, at the university of sciences ; conducted research on phylloxera, an aphid-like pest that plagued grape vineyards.
1877 Once he rent a house at Fau (Cantal), he spent every holidays there ; created a dairy station where he performed research on the composition of milk and the making of the cheese named fourme d'Auvergne in order to improve it ; led a vaccination program against anthrax.
1878 Taught as a professor of meteorology at the National Agronomics Institute and as a professor of biochemistry at the Sorbonne university (then at the Institut Pasteur, from 1888).
1880 His wife died from puerperal fever, just after the birth of their third child.
1880-1900 Main works and publications in a huge spectrum of activities, such as : agriculture, bacteriology, chemistry, studies on wine and milk, medicine, hygiene, physics.
1887 Began publication of the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, with Ch. Chamberland, J.-J. Grancher, Ed. Nocard, E. Roux and I. Straus as members of the first editorial board.
1888 Elected member of the French Academy of Sciences (section of rural economy).
1888-1895 Became sub-director of the Institut Pasteur.
1890 Lectured on sulfobacteria and iron bacteria, at the microbiology course of the Institut Pasteur.
1894 Became a member of the French Academy of Medicine.
1895-1904 After Pasteur's death, became director of the Institut Pasteur, with E. Roux and Ch. Chamberland serving as sub-directors ; extension of the Institute (land purchase in the streets rue Dutot and rue Vaugirard, building of the Pasteur hospital and the Biochemistry Institute (1900).
1896 Published a biography dedicated to Pasteur entitled Pasteur, histoire d'un esprit.
1898 Involved in French politics and was one of the most renown scholars among the Dreyfusards supporting Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongly accused of treason ; named vice-president of the League for Human and Citizen Rights, from its foundation.
1898-1901 Published the first issue of the Traité de microbiologie ; the first four of what were then expected to be seven volumes were published.
1901 Married Mrs James Darmesteter (maiden name Agnes Mary Frances Robinson).
1902 Publication of a book entitled L'hygiène sociale.
1904 On May 2nd, died in Paris.
Biographical reference tools :
- Emile Duclaux (1840-1904)), Sceaux, Imprimerie Charaire, 30 p., 1904.
Service des Archives de l'Institut Pasteur