Hélène Sparrow (1891-1970)
French doctor and biologist, originated from Poland, born in Bogouslav, province of Kiev (Russia), on June 5, 1891 from polish parents. Her father, Leopold Sparrow, was a magistrate; her mother was Dr Stefanski's daughter.
1909 Once highschool studies were finished, started studies at the faculty of medicine in Kiev.
1915 Once being a doctor, she enroled in sanitary training within the Russian army to combat epidemics on the east front.
1917 Married baron R. von Kuegelgen, a surgeon who was enroled in the Russian army. They got one daughter, Bogna.
1918 Worked at the university clinics in Dorpat (Esthonia) under the supervision of professor Bylina.
1918-1920 Went back Kiev where she was named assistant of W. Linderman, at the institute of bacteriology.
Worked on epidemic typhus and tissue cultures with professors A. Kronotowski and L. Polev.
1920 Left Kiev with the polish army and went to Varsovia where she was enroled by L. Raichman at the institute of state health, first as an assistant in the service of bacteriological analyses, then as head of laboratory and service of the preventive vaccinations. Assigned in Grodno (Poland) to search for cholera clusters and vaccinate the army in campaign and the civil population.
1921-1933 In collaboration with R. Weigl, she conducted her research studies at the institute of epidemic typhus from the university of Lwow.
1922 Set up four laboratory along the east frontier of Poland to ensure sanitary control of polish people repatriated from Russia.
1923 Obtained her degree of medical doctor at the university of Poznan. Thanks to a grant of the Société des Nations (SDN), she went to France at the Institut Pasteur in Lille, in order to study tuberculosis with A. Calmette and C. Guérin. Then she performed a training at the Institut Pasteur of Brussels with J. Bordet, and at the institute of health in Strasbourg with A. Borrel.
1924 Sent to Paris by the Société des Nations, in order to attend the cours de microbiologie at the Institut Pasteur and to perform a training in the laboratory of A. Besredka.
1925 Obtained a grant from the Institut Pasteur to conduct researches on the epidemic typhus at the Institut Pasteur in Tunis under the supervision of Ch. Nicolle.
1925 Organized and conducted the mass vaccination against scarlet fever in Varsovia and several provinces of Poland which were threatened by the epidemy. She was supported by R. Debré who was sent on a mission by the health committee of SDN.
10/1928 Named associate professor at the faculty of medicine of the university of Varsovia and designated tenured professor in bacteriology following a PhD thesis entitled Problèmes de la vaccination contre le typhus exanthématique .
1930-1933 Organized and conducted the preventive vaccinations against diphtheria all over Poland. Managed the higher course of microbiology at the institute of health and took an active part in meetings of medical societies in Poland as well as in the French branch of the Société de biologie in Varsovia.
1931 Ministry of foreign affairs designated her to participate to a study assignment on the epidemic typhus in Mexico and Guatemala, under Ch. Nicolle's supervision.
1933 Called by Ch. Nicolle at the Institut Pasteur in Tunis, she was in charge of head laboratory functions and brought the Weigl approach for lice inoculation.
10/1933 Got her French naturalisation.
1935 With Ch. Nicolle, work on a murine virus which was isolated from rats of Tunis harbour, demonstration of its weak pathogenic power for small monkeys and humans, and study of an antityphoid vaccine prepared with this virus.
1940 With P. Durand, she applied rickettsies cultures arised from lungs of airway infected rodents to the historical typhus, and set up the antityphoid vaccine Durand-Sparrow. With P. Giroud and P. Durand, worked on lung way cultures of the agent of spotted fever, in order to perform trials for vaccination against the Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
1940-1945 Hosted French refugees in Tunis from which the most famous was the writer André Gide; carried on her scientific activity and wrote texts which were secretly conveyed; hid polish deserters who were enlisted by force in the German army.
1943 Married Ph. Germa, an agricultural ingeneer, with whom she created an orangery at the Soukra near Tunis.
1945-1960 Exceptionally kept in her functions in spite of the age limit. Focused her research on anti-tuberculosis vaccination and, from 1949, became head of the service BCG at the Institut Pasteur in Tunis. Numerous French and American bacteriologists came for learning in her laboratory.
1945 Elected as a member of the Société de Pathologie Exotique (SPE).
1958 In charge of studying relapsing fever in Ethiopia by OMS.
1962 Following Bizerte's events where her husband was arrested then drove back in France, she left Tunisia and retired in Corse. The couple then undertook new cultures by clearing out some new lands.
13/11/1970 Died in Pietranera (Corse).
Publications in collaboration with : G. Carré, G. Caruana, E. Conseil, J. Coupin, P. Durand, P. Giroud, M. Huet, J. Laigret, P. Mareschal, Ch. Nicolle.
- Chadli (A.), Hélène Sparrow - Germa (1891-1969), Archives de l'Institut Pasteur de Tunis , 47, 4, pp. 309-310.
- Debré (Robert), A la mémoire d'Hélène Sparrow, polonaise et française , 9 p. dact. (archives Institut Pasteur, Bio.S1).
- Giroud (Paul), Hélène Sparrow-Germa (1891-1970), Bulletin de la Société de pathologie exotique , t. 64, nÝ 1, p. 13-14.
- s.a., Hélène Sparrow Germa, 3 p. dact. (archives Institut Pasteur, Bio.S1).
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