Elie Wollman (1917-2008)
French physician and biologist, born on July 4, 1917, in Paris. His father Eugene Wollman and his mother Elizabeth were both biologists working at the Institut Pasteur. He was the E. Metchnikoff's godson.
1936-1939 Trained as a non-resident student of the Hôpitaux de Paris.
1939 Became a science graduate.
1939-1940 Joined the mobilized troops of junior officers, as a private second class, at Angers ; served as a medical auxiliary at Autun, then at the Sainte-Croix hospital in Toulouse, where he was demobilized in August 1940.
1940-1942 Period of training as an intern at the Purpan military hospital, Toulouse.
1942-1944 Worked as a grant-holder at the Institute of Biology, Montpellier.
1943 Hospital training at Lyon ; thesis defense for doctorate from the University of Lyon, which dissertation topic was : La nature chimique des anticorps.
1944-1945 Entered the French resistance as a physician in the Patrice group of the secrete army, Tarn region of France ; became a FFI's physician-lieutenant.
1945-1946 Grant-holder from the Institut Pasteur.
1946 Attended the microbiology course (cours de microbiologie) at the Institut Pasteur of Paris.
1946-1954 Worked as an assistant-researcher at the Institut Pasteur, in the microbial physiology laboratory (service de physiologie microbienne ), under A. Lwoff.
1948-1950 Invitated by Max Delbrück to work in his lab at Caltech, Pasadena, thanks to a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation ; Delbrück was a leader of the Caltech's Phage group.
1954-1964 Appointed as head of laboratory at the Institut Pasteur. Played a pivotal role in discoveries on the organization of genetic material ; his early research concerned virulent and non-virulent bacteriophages, colicins, and genetics of lysogenic bacteria (Escherichia coli K12 strain) ; collaborated with François Jacob to study the structure and localization of the lambda prophage in lysogenic bacteria ; discovered the epigenetic switch from the lysogenic state to the lytic one that characterizes phage induction, following conjugation of lysogenic bacteria with non-lysogenic ones ; then showed that prophage induction is regulated by a lytic repressor, which was one of the first examples of gene regulatory mechanism ; contributed decisively to the gene mapping of bacterial chromosomes (1954-1955), thanks to the ingenious method of interrupted mating, or coitus interruptus ; provided evidence for the circularity of the bacterial chromosome.
1956 Member of the organization committee of the first symposium on the reorganization of teaching and research at the university, held in Caen.
1958 Thesis defense for PhD ; the dissertation topic was entitled : Recherche sur la conjugaison des bactéries et sur le déterminisme génétique de la lysogénie (studies on bacterial conjugation and genetic determinism of lysogeny).
1958-1959 As a Fulbright grant-holder, conducted research in collaboration with G. Stent, at the Californian Institute of Virology in Berkeley.
1959 Together with F. Jacob, published a monography entitled ?La sexualité des bactéries? (sexuality and the genetics of bacteria), Paris, Masson.
1960 Appointed as ?Directeur de Recherche at the CNRS? (national scientific research center) ; he was bestowed the honor of Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, then was awarded Officer, in 1980.
1960 Appointed as scientific secretary (1960-1965), then as vice president of the scientific committee for the molecular biology program of the DGRST (Délégation Générale à la Recherche Scientifique et Technique).
1960 (July-August) Traveled to Argentina, at the request of the Malbran National Institute of Microbiology at Buenos Aires ; as part of the previous collaborative relationships with the Institut Pasteur, founded a new pavilion for microbial genetics and created a department of molecular biology.
1961-1974 Participated in numerous scientific missions : Soviet Union (1961 and 1964), Chile (1960 and 1962), Romania (1965), Hungary (1966), Israel (1972), Japan (1974).
1963 Named by the French Society of Microbiology delegate to the International Association of Microbiological Societies.
1963-1971 Elected member of the national committee for scientific research.
1964 Appointed as Professor at the Institut Pasteur.
1964 In order to rescue the Institut Pasteur from a major financial and management crisis, E. Wollman, B. Virat and R. Panthier decided to create a committee in charge of laying the groundwork for a profound reorganization of research and teaching in this institution ; this reorganization was implemented by P. Mercier, when he became Director of the Institut Pasteur in 1966.
1964 Founding member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) dedicated to the promotion of molecular biology, thanks to the establishment of the EMBO course, among other initiatives.
1964-1968 Became a member of the INSERM committee for microbiology (INSERM is the French national institute for health and medical research).
1966 Became a member of the national committee for human biology, at the French Department of Education (ministère de l'éducation nationale).
1966-1971 Together with B. Virat and H. Marneffe, named Assistant-Director of the Institut Pasteur by Director P. Mercier.
1966 (Nov.) Participated in a workshop examining the conditions for efficiency in basic research, at the symposium held in Caen.
1967-1971 Elected member of the directorship and of the board of trustees.
1968 Elected member of the French commission to the UNESCO.
1968-1969 Appointed as Professor at the University of Sciences in Paris.
1969-1973 Appointed as Secretary General of the International Cell Research Organization (ICRO) at the UNESCO.
1971-1976 Director J. Monod maintained E. Wollman at his post of Assistant-Director.
1971 Elected member of the commission ?Science de la vie? for biology, as a part of the sixth plan.
1972 Became a member of the scientific committee of the INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique).
1975 Appointed as Director in charge of the teaching department, at the Institut Pasteur.
1976-1982 Director F. Gros maintained E. Wollman at his post of Assistant-Director.
1982 Co-founded the Museum of the research applications, in Marnes-la-Coquette.
1982-1985 Director R. Dedonder maintained E. Wollman at his post of Assistant-Director.
1982-1986 Became a member of the National Ethics Advisory Committee for biological sciences and public health.
1987 Supported the creation of the Institut Pasteur's Archives, implemented by the directors R. Dedonder and M. Schwartz ; E. Wollman became president of its first scientific committee.
1991 Elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, as a foreign associate.
2008 (June 1st) Died in Paris.
Collaborators : T. Anderson, L. Alfoldi, C. R. Fuerst, W. Hayes, F. Jacob, A. Lwoff, R. Mazé, J. Monod, P. Schaeffer, G. Stent, L. Siminovitch.
Biographical reference tools :
- Wollman (Elie), Titres et travaux scientifiques , 27 p., typed, duplic., 1967 (Archives Pasteur Bio.20).
- Wollman (Elie), autobiography, 12 p., typed, duplic., 1976, June 22 (Archives Pasteur Bio.20).
- Wollman (Elie), Curriculum vitae, 4 p., typed, 2001 (Archives Pasteur Bio.20).
- Dantzer R. and Kelley K., Elie Wollman, a biographical memoir, National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C., 2009 (on-line)
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