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Biographical sketch
Gaston Ramon (1886-1963)
version française  
 

French biologist and veterinarian, born on Sept. 30, 1886 in Bellechaume (Yonne, France). His father was a baker. He attended the local public school, then the high school in Sens (Yonne, France).
1906-1910 Graduated from the Veterinary School in Alfort (Val de Marne, France), following a four-year training.
1911-1920 His schoolmaster H. Vallée introduced him to E. Roux, who assigned him a position of veterinarian in the service of serum production, in the annexe of the Institut Pasteur in Garches, near Paris. Under the direction of veterinarian A. Prévôt, was in charge of immunizing thousands of horses in order to collect anti-tetanus, anti-diphtheria, anti-gangrene sera, intended for the treatment of the diseases.
1915 During First World War, at E. Roux's request, searched for antiseptic agents for the preservation of protective immune sera, that turned out to be contaminated during the processes of harvesting, bottling and transport. He opted for formalin, that revealed to be effective. Improved his bacteriological practice by training in M. Nicolle 's laboratory.
1917 Married Marthe Momont, who was grand-niece of Emile Roux.
1920 Obtained authorization from E. Roux and L. Martin to establish a small laboratory near his house in the annexe of the Institut Pasteur in Garches.
1921 Developed an antitoxic serum purification method, in order to minimize the risks of accidental side-effects of serum treatment.
1922 Carried out experiments on the diphteria toxin : G. Ramon observed that the mixture of the diphteria toxin and its corresponding anti-toxin can generate the formation of a precipitate ; he noticed that the precipitation is all the more intense since toxin reach saturation point with anti-toxin. That was at the root of his development of an in vitro titration method for determining the potency of the diphteria anti-toxin, which no more required experiments in laboratory animals.
1923 Showed that the toxicity of the diphteria toxin can be suppressed by both chemical (small doses of formalin) and heat treatments, while other properties, typically immunogenicity, are maintained. This harmless toxoid was called "anatoxine diphtérique" by G. Ramon. Following a testing period, the toxoid "anatoxine diphtérique" were used in vaccine. At the same time, Ramon had the idea that the tetanus toxin could be similarly inactivated and turned into toxoid "anatoxine tétanique".
1924 Showed that venom toxoid "anavenin" can be obtained from venom.
1925 Theorized that adjuvant substances may stimulate the immune response and that the simultaneous use of a tissue irritating substance and a toxin allows the development of anti-toxin rich vaccines.
1925-1926 Used tetanus toxoid "anatoxine tétanique" as a prophylactic tool in order to prevent the tetanus disease in pets (with P. Descombey) and in humans (with Ch. Zoeller).
1926 With Ch. Zoeller, developed the method of combined vaccine, which was designed to prevent several infections by using only one injection. It consisted in a mixed vaccine, made up of a bacterial vaccine associated with one or two toxoids.
1926-1944 After A. Prévôt's death, named director of the annexe of the Institut Pasteur in Garches.
1929-1934 In collaboration with R. Debré, conducted biological and immunological researches on diphteria and scarlet fever.
1932 Established the service for the scientific film, directed by J. Comandon, in Garches.
1934 Elected member of the French Academy of Medicine ; prize obtained from the Academy : Clotilde Liard (1924) ; named member of the newly created serum committee (ministry of public health) along with : Ch. Broquet, Cruveilhier, Ch. Dopter, R. Debré, R. Dujarric de la Rivière, L. Martin, G. Roussy.
1934 Became an active member of the French Society of Biology ( Société de biologie ).
1934-1940 Succeeded A. Calmette as assistant director of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, while L. Martin became director.
1935 Named member of the BCG vaccine committee at the Institut Pasteur, with Marfan as chairman, along with : A. Boquet, R. Debré, C. Guérin, L. Martin, L. Nègre, B. Weill-Hallé.
1937-1940 In charge of supervising the whole of the services for serum and toxoid production. Between 1939 and 1940, the Institut Pasteur provided seven million doses of serum and vaccine for the Army.
1940 On Dec. 5, named director of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, with A. Boivin and N. Bernard as assistant directors. The financial and administrative reforms he wished to implement for the Institut Pasteur were rejected by the board of directors ; he then resigned from the directorship and J. Tréfouël succeeded him.
1941 Named honorary director of the Institut Pasteur ; became head of the whole of the services in immunology and as such, belonged to the scientific advisory board of the Institut Pasteur.
1943 Elected member of the French Academy of Sciences ; prizes obtained from the Academy : Bréant (1925), Général Muteau (1937).
1944 Left the management of the annexe of the Institut Pasteur in Garches to Ed. Lemétayer.
1947 Named research director at the French Health Institute.
1948 Left office at the Institut Pasteur and became director of the International Epizootic Office ("Office International des Epizooties") in Paris.
1959 Retired.
1962 On May 3, gave the Academician's sword to R. Debré, during an awards ceremony held at the International Children's Center, in the presence of well-known personalities, among which L. Rajchman.
1963 Died on Jun. 8, in Paris.

Collaborators : G. Amoureux, A. Berthelot, A. Bessemans, S. Bilal, R. Debré, P. Descombey, M. Djourichitch, J. Dumas, B. Kolochine-Erber, E. Grasset, A. Hamedy, G. Illingworth, A. Lafaille, R. Legroux, E. Lemétayer, P. Lépine R. Martin, G. Mozer, L. Nattan-Larrier, P. Nélis, O. Nouredine, Marcelle Nicolle, Ch. Pérard, G. Pichot, F. de Potter,J. Prieur, V. Robin, R. Richou, Russel, M. Schoen, A. Staub, P. Urhy, P. Thiroloix, G. Timbal, P. Valot, Ch. Zoeller.

Biographical reference tools :
- Ramon (Gaston), Notice des titres et travaux scientifiques de G. Ramon, Paris, Ancienne imprimerie de la Cour d'Appel, 1934, 109 p.


 

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