Antoine Lacassagne (1884-1971)
French physician and biologist, born on Aug. 29, 1884 in Villerest (Loire, France). His father, Alexandre, was a professor at the Medical School of Lyon, France.
1902 High School degree, Lyon.
1903-1904 Pre-medical PCN certificate (physics, chemistry and biology).
1904-1908 Enrollment in medical training at the Medical School of Lyon. Obtained medical internship in 1908.
1909 Commenced research in the Medical School laboratory, Lyon, working with Cl. Regaud who assigned him the doctoral dissertation topic of the effects of X-rays on doe ovaries.
1913 Thesis defense for medical doctorate : "Etude histologique et physiologique des effets produits sur l'ovaire par les rayons X". Undertook decision to follow Cl. Regaud to Paris and to become his assistant at the Radium Institute.
1913-1914 Entered the Institut Pasteur, as a grant-holder ; attended the renown microbiology course (cours de microbiologie).
1914-1918 During First World War, served as a medical assistant on the French war front and joined the East Army in 1916.
1919 Returned to research at the Pasteur laboratory of the Radium Institute. With Cl. Regaud, contributed to the development of X-ray treatment of cancers. He defined the anatomopathological effects of ionizing radiations on non-cancerous and cancerous tissues.
1923-1937 Appointed as assistant director of the Radium Institute.
1924 By studying the effects of polonium injections on rabbits and mice, developed (with J. Lattès) autohistoradiography which allows the localization of radioactive substances at a microscopic level.
1927 Became Secretary General of the Index Analyticus Cancerologiae review, published by the French League Against Cancer and directed by A. Borrel, J. de Nobèle, H. Hartmann, Cl. Regaud, G. Roussy. Became permanent member of the French Society of Biology (Société de biologie ).
1928 With Fernand Holweck, commenced working on the statistical mathematical interpretation of curves linking radiation doses to observed effects in homogeneous populations of monocellular organisms. Conducted this research primarily on yeast and Polytoma uvella. Described for the first time the delayed death phenomenon ; contributed to advances in radiobiology, from the quantum interpretation of elementary interactions between radiation energy and living organic matter.
1930 With R. Vinzent, he carried out an experiment on the first case of cocancerization, showing that cancers are caused by very low doses of radiation, which act on infectious sources but have no effect on non-inflamed tissues.
1932 Showed that folliculin oestrogen hormone may produce breast cancers in mice and he thus paved the way for hormonotherapy.
1939 His scientific reputation and his therapeutic talents gained him a following among well-known personalities. At Princess Marie Bonaparte's request, he traveled to London to care for a bedridden S. Freud, suffering from a jaw cancer.
1939-1940 With Eugene Wollman, resumed similar studies to those performed with F. Holweck, but on bacteriophages.
1940 Became member of the French Health Advisory council.
1941 Named Professor at the newly created experimental radiology chair of the College de France.
1942-1943 With R. Latarjet, studied cancer generation through combined actions of X-rays and polycyclic hydrocarbon UV-rays on mouse skin. These experiments revealed the important role of hair sebaceous follicle in the production of cutaneous epithelioma.
1942-1957 Collaborated with wave mechanics physicists (Mr. and Mrs. Daudel, Mr. and Mrs. Pullman), organic chemists led by N.P. Buu-Hoï, biologists (G. Rudali and F. Zajdela) ; conducted research on carcinogenic activity of polycyclic hydrocarbons, leading to the development of inframolecular cancer research.
1946 On behalf of the Institut Pasteur, traveled to Iran with R. Legroux and L. Pasteur Vallery-Radot following a new agreement between M. Baltazard and the Iranian government for the Pasteur Institute of Iran ; Lacassagne served as signatory.
1948 Elected member of the French Academy of Medicine.
1949 Elected member of the French Academy of Sciences.
1950 Chair, first international cancer meeting in Paris.
1953 With J. Tréfouël, became a member of the advisory board for the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) on biological research.
1954-1971 Although retired, he continued to conduct research on rat liver cancer with Mrs. L. Corre-Hurst, at the Radium Institute laboratory ; the Institut Pasteur equipped the laboratory for his use.
1957 Participated in first meeting of the Pugwash movement, which sought to heighten awareness of the risks for humankind of nuclear weapons.
1957 Elected president of the Antoine Béclère center (international relationships in medical radiology).
1959 Elected president of the French National League Against Cancer ; established grants for young scientists seeking to conduct cancer research.
1964 Appointed member of the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) committee : Cellular and histological pathology, cancerology and radiopathology.
1965-1971 Since the Radium Institute laboratory was too small to accommodate current activities and research, he created a research center at the Lannelongue Institute (Vanves, France) with the assistance of INSERM funds. Continued research on chemical and hormonal cancer generation.
1966 Elected chair of the Association of Rationalist Doctors (A. Lwoff belongs to its honorary committee). The association advocates relaxing laws against medical abortion, among other health-related regulations.
1968 Lacassagne among the first 17 signatories of the Call to Intellectuals against the Vietnam War.
1971 Due to a decline in his health, finished current research and ended his days, on Dec. 16.
Collaborators : Baclesse, P. Beraud, E. Briau, Buu-Hoi, R. Caussé, H. Cesbron, A. Chamorro, C. Commandeur, L. Corre-Hurst, O. Costerousse, S. Cotelle, J. Courmont, H. Coutard, R. Cremieu, V. Dantchakoff, S. Danysz, N. Dat-Xuong, R. Daudel, L. Desclin, J. Dubois, A. Fehr, R. Ferroux, G. Fournier, F. Joliot-Curie, P. Giroud, G. Gricouroff, N. Hoan, H. Holovée, F. Holweck, M. Hubert-Habard, Jacquignon, J. Jolly, M. Lagoutte, R. Latarjet, J. Lattes, J. Lavedan, C.-P. Leblond, J. Lecocq, J. Loiseleur, B. Lyonnet, O. Monod, S. Nicolau, Th. Nogier, W. Nyka, A. Paulin, J. Pierquin, A. Policard, A. Raynaud, J. Reverdy, Cl. Regaud, G. Richard, J.-L. Roux-Berger, Rubens-Duval, Ch. Roubier, M. Rouyer, G. Rudali, N. Samssonow, P. Savy, M. Servigne, M. Schoen, J.-A. Thomas, E. Villela, R. Vinzent, P.-E. Weil, El. Wollman, Eug. Wollman, F. Zajdela.
Biographical reference tools :
- Latarjet (Raymond), "Antoine Lacassagne (1884-1971)", Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, vol. 122, n° 6, 1972.
- Martin (Carole), Inventaire du fonds d'archives. Dossiers scientifiques et lames histologiques Antoine Lacassagne, introduction, p. 1-8.
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