Our History

"Chance favors invention only for minds prepared for discoveries by patient study and persevering efforts."


Louis Pasteur, a qualified chemist, was behind the most important scientific revolutions of the 19th century in the fields of biology, agriculture, medicine and hygiene. Beginning his research on crystallography, he soon embarked on a journey filled with discoveries which led him to develop the rabies vaccine.

Louis Pasteur’s life was filled with revolutionary discoveries and also marked by a number of events that likely fueled his desire to understand the diseases of his time. A tireless and dedicated scientist, he traveled extensively throughout France to prove his theories and solve agricultural and industrial problems caused by infectious diseases.

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


December 27. Birth of Louis Pasteur in Dole (Jura).

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


His family moved to Arbois.He produced his first pastel drawing at the age of 13.

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


Louis Pasteur was a pupil at Arbois Collège

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


Left to study at the Collège Royal in Besançon.

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


Received his Bachelier ès lettres (Arts diploma) in Besançon. Teaching assistant at the Collège in Besançon.


Received his Bachelier ès Sciences mathématiques (Mathematics diploma) in Dijon.


Admitted to the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (4th place).


Earned his degree in science.

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


Appointed physics teacher at the Lycée de Tournon (Ardèche) but stayed on at the École Normale Supérieure as assistant professor.
Met Auguste Laurent in Antoine Balard’s laboratory. Studied crystals.

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


Docteur ès sciences.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Appointed physics teacher at the Lycée de Dijon then substitute chemistry teacher at the Science Faculty in Strasbourg. Research on dimorphism. Historical paper on the two forms of sodium ammonium paratartrate.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur married Marie Laurent, daughter of the rector of Strasbourg University. Research on the specific properties of the two constituent acids of racemic acid.



Birth of his daughter Jeanne (died in 1859).

Jean Baptiste, fils de Louis Pasteur


Birth of his son Jean-Baptiste.Louis Pasteur’s paper on aspartic and malic acids.

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


New research on the possibility of a relationship between crystalline form, chemical composition and the direction of rotatory polarization.


Cécile, fille de Louis Pasteur

Birth of his daughter Cécile (died in 1866). Louis Pasteur was named Chevalier of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honor. He was awarded the Paris Pharmacy Society Prize for his synthesis of racemic acid. Memorandum on the discovery of the transformation of tartaric acid into racemic acid. Discovery of inactive tartaric acid.



Louis Pasteur was appointed Dean of the Science Faculty in Lille.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Beginning of studies on fermentation. Presentation of a paper on amyl alcohol in Lille.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Beginning of research on alcohol fermentation.


Louis Pasteur

Appointed administrator and director of scientific studies at the École Normale Supérieure. Paper on lactic fermentation. Paper on alcohol fermentation.


Marie Louise fille de Louis Pasteur

Birth of his daughter Marie-Louise. Set up his laboratory in the attic of the École Normale Supérieure in Rue d’Ulm, Paris. Beginning of research on spontaneous generation.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Experimental Physiology Prize from the Science Academy for his work on fermentation.



Air samples collected in Arbois to study spontaneous generation. Investigation of the doctrine of spontaneous generation.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Awarded the Jecker Prize by the Science Academy for his research on fermentation. Publication of his findings on vinegar in the Paris Chemistry Society bulletin.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Elected to the Science Academy (mineralogy section). Study of the role of mycoderma in acetic fermentation. Awarded the Alhumbert Prize for his research on spontaneous generation.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Birth of his daughter Camille (died in 1865). Napoleon III requested Louis Pasteur to study wine diseases. Research on wine and the effect of oxygen in air on the winemaking process. Appointed professor of applied geology, physics and chemistry at the École des Beaux-Arts.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Filed a patent for a process used to preserve and improve wine by moderate heating in anaerobic conditions, which came to be known as pasteurization. Research on silkworm diseases.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Publication of "Studies on wine". Publication of an essay on the scientific work of Claude Bernard. (portrait above)

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur


Set up a physiological chemistry laboratory at the École Normale Supérieure. Appointed professor of organic chemistry at the Sorbonne. Awarded the Grand Prix at the Universal Exposition for his research on wine. Resigned from his administrative duties at the École Normale Supérieure.


Degree of Doctor of Medicine honoris causa from the University of Bonn. Made a Commander of the Legion of Honor. Publication of research on vinegar. Louis Pasteur suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Publication of research on silkworm diseases.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Research on new processes for manufacturing and preserving beer.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Elected to the Academy of Medicine.



Publication of "Studies on beer".

Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Memorandum on the fermentation of urine. Research on anthrax. Research on septicemia.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. Publication of the paper "Germ theory and its applications to medicine and surgery". Developed the chicken cholera vaccine using an attenuated microbe. Research on gangrene, septicemia and puerperal fever.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Paper on the plague. Discovery of immunization using attenuated cultures. His daughter Marie-Louise married René Vallery-Radot. (Portrait above)


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Appointed member of the Central Society of Veterinary Medicine. Paper on virulent diseases (Louis Pasteur established the principle of virus vaccines for the very first time). Beginning of research on rabies.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Received the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor. Developed the anthrax vaccine. Work on yellow fever near Bordeaux. Elected to the Académie française.


Paper on contagious pleuropneumonia in cattle. Research on erysipelothrix infection.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Developed the erysipelothrix vaccine with Louis Thuillier (Portrait above).


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

New papers on rabies. Paper on pathogenic microbes and attenuated-virus vaccines at the Copenhagen Congress. Louis Pasteur presented the general principle of vaccination of virulent diseases.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

First human rabies vaccination.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Elected Life Secretary of the Science Academy. Suffered a second attack of paralysis.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Opening of the Institut Pasteur on November 14.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Jubilee celebrated at the Sorbonne on December 27.


Chronologie de Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur died in Villeneuve-l’Étang on September 28. (Last photograph taken of Louis Pasteur)

"Adopt a critical mind. By itself, it can neither encourage ideas nor stimulate anything great. But without it, everything is useless. It always has the last word."



Louis Pasteur’s work

Every discovery opened a new field of investigation leading to further breakthroughs.

Louis Pasteur’s life’s work can be divided into three main parts. Chemistry and the observation of crystals led him to study fermentation. 

And this led to his disproving of the spontaneous generation theory, a key discovery which opened the doors to microbiology and vaccination.


Louis Pasteur dans son laboratoire de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure à Paris - Institut Pasteur

The early years 1847-1862 


Research on molecular asymmetry

In 1847 Louis Pasteur, a young chemist freshly graduated from the prestigious Ecole normale supérieure, set to work on the problem posed by German physicist Eilhard Mitscherlich, namely, why do sodium ammonium paratartrate and tartrate - two seemingly identical chemical substances - affect polarized light differently ?

The whole story

The middle years 1862-1877 


deposit of the pasteurization


Louis Pasteur’s work raised a new set of research questions, such as " Where do fermentation agents come from ? " and " Do they originate from germs similar to themselves or do they appear spontaneously as explained by the spontaneous generation theory ? "

The whole story

The final years 1877-1887



Between the age of 55 and 65 Louis Pasteur developed microbiology, applying it to medicine and surgery. Having established that diseases were caused by microorganisms, he then sought to identify and find a means of fighting them. His finest accomplishment was rabies.

The whole story




The Institut Pasteur is named after its illustrious founder and owes much to this scientific genius. Yet its story is also linked to the lives and discoveries of many other scientists, all inspired by the humanist ideals of Louis Pasteur, whose scientific breakthroughs have benefited people's health worldwide.

The Institut Pasteur is a private, non-profit foundation officially recognized for charitable status, just as Louis Pasteur himself wanted.

Established by decree on June 4, 1887, the Institut Pasteur was opened on November 14, 1888 following Louis Pasteur's successful international appeal for funds. He now had the facilities to extend vaccination against rabies, continue research on infectious diseases and share the resulting knowledge.



Elèves du 1er cours de microbie technique en 1889 - Institut Pasteur

A year after the Institut Pasteur opened, Emile Roux launched the world's first ever microbiology course, entitled "Technical Microbiology". Students from all over Europe came to attend theoretical and practical training in this new scientific discipline.

Bâtiment de l'Institut Pasteur de Saïgon en 1930 - Institut Pasteur

The first Institut Pasteur outside France was set up by Albert Calmette in Saigon in 1891. Its role was to administer vaccines for rabies and smallpox in Indochina. 

Institut Pasteur de Madagascar - Institut Pasteur

Opening of the Institut Pasteur in Antananarivo, Madagascar.


Edmond et Etienne Sergent vers 1927 - Institut Pasteur

A permanent mission from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, directed by the Sergent brothers, was sent to tackle malaria in Algeria. This mission merged with an anti-rabies center to create the Institut Pasteur in Algeria. In 1960, the Institut Pasteur in Algeria launched a program to combat tuberculosis.


Institut Pasteur de Tunis - Institut Pasteur

Opening of the Institut Pasteur in Tunis.


Façade de l'Institut Pasteur de Saint-Pétersbourg en 1995 - Institut Pasteur

In April 1886, sixteen Russian patients were treated for rabies by Louis Pasteur and returned to Russia cured of the disease. Pasteur's nephew Adrien Loir traveled to Saint Petersburg to set up the first anti-rabies center outside France. In 1923, on the centenary of Louis Pasteur's birth, the Pasteur Anti-Rabies Center, associated with the Imperial Institute of Experimental Medicine, became the Institut Pasteur in Saint Petersburg. It joined the Institut Pasteur International Network in 1993.


Jean Laigret (1893-1966) au laboratoire - Institut Pasteur

Jean Laigret developed the yellow fever vaccine at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. Georges Girard and Jean Robin developed a plague vaccine at the Institut Pasteur in Madagascar.


Institut Pasteur de la Guyane française en 1940 - Institut Pasteur

When the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana was set up, its main contributions were the development of a treatment for leprosy and epidemiology research on malaria and yellow fever.


Jardin et bâtiment de l'Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, 1960 - Institut Pasteur

In August 1946, the Institut Pasteur in Nha Trang (Vietnam) set up a veterinary annex in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to produce the rinderpest vaccine. This resulted in the creation of the Institut Pasteur in Phnom Penh in December 1953. It was renamed the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia in 1958 and shifted its focus to human biology and diseases.


Institut Pasteur de Nouvelle- Calédonie en 1995 - Institut Pasteur

The Institut Pasteur in New Caledonia was set up in 1954. Following a dengue outbreak which affected 40% of the population, an Institut Pasteur mission in Nouméa identified the viral type and paved the way for the creation of an arbovirology and entomology unit in 1974.


Institut Pasteur de Bangui en 1963 - Institut Pasteur

The Institut Pasteur in Bangui, which opened in 1961, is a state-approved organization in the Central African Republic. It mainly focuses on research into arboviruses (arthropod-borne viruses).


Institut Pasteur de Côte d'Ivoire en 1999 - Institut Pasteur

The Institut Pasteur in Côte d'Ivoire, which opened on July 27, 1972, is involved in the development of rapid diagnostic techniques for arboviruses and enteroviruses and in microbial monitoring.



In 1989, the institutes formalized their membership of the Pasteurian community, as well as their resulting rights and obligations, by adopting a General Declaration of Scientific Cooperation. The declaration was signed by each director and marked the official launch of the Institut Pasteur International Network. Ever since, despite the closure of some institutes (owing to major changes in local policy), the number of institutes has continued to grow.


Centre de recherche Université de Hong-Kong-Pasteur - Institut Pasteur

The Hong Kong University – Pasteur Research Pole, created in 1999 and officially opened in 2000, focuses its research on viruses that represent a risk for public health in the region. It is currently investigating emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in China, including SARS, influenza, AIDS, dengue and hepatitis C.


Bâtiment "Lapeyssonnie" du CERMES - Niger - Institut Pasteur

The CERMES (Center for Medical and Health Research in Niger), which joined the International Network in 2002 with the new status of associate institute, conducts research on bacterial meningitis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.


Institut Scientifique de Santé Publique de Bruxelles - Institut Pasteur

In Brussels, an institute founded in 1901 by Jules Bordet became a member of the Institut Pasteur International Network. In 2008, this institute was integrated into the Directorate of Communicable and Infectious Diseases of the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP), with the entire institute becoming a corresponding member of the International Network.


Institut Pasteur de Montevideo - Uruguay - Institut Pasteur

The Institut Pasteur in Montevideo, Uruguay, the result of trilateral cooperation between the French and Uruguayan governments and the Institut Pasteur, joined the International Network in June.


Vue de l'Institut Pasteur du Laos, inauguré le lundi 23 janvier 2012 - Institut Pasteur

The Institut Pasteur in Laos was officially opened in Vientiane in January 2012, becoming the 32nd institute in the Institut Pasteur International Network. The aim of this new research center for infectious and parasitic diseases is to reduce the risks of pandemic outbreaks in Southeast Asia, where such diseases are rife.


Pose de la 1ère pierre de l'Institut Pasteur de Guinée - Institut Pasteur

On November 11, 2016, in Conakry, the President of the Republic of Guinea, His Excellency Professor Alpha Condé, laid the first stone of the Institut Pasteur in Guinea at a ceremony attended by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault. The decision to set up an Institut Pasteur in Guinea was made in 2014 in response to the Ebola crisis. It reflects the joint determination of the French and Guinean Presidents to tackle emerging outbreaks on a long-term basis. This led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Republic of Guinea and the Institut Pasteur in September 2015.


Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


Development of the rabies vaccine by Louis Pasteur.

Travaux sur la phagocytose d'Elie Metchnikoff - Institut Pasteur


Research on inflammation and immunity by Elie Metchnikoff.

Cristaux de la toxine diphtérique - Institut Pasteur


Development of a diphtheria treatment based on serotherapy by Emile Roux, Louis Martin and Auguste Chaillou..



La peste bubonique à Hong-Kong par le Dr Yersin - Institut Pasteur




Identification of the plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis, by Alexandre Yersin.

Jules Bordet en 1898 - Institut Pasteur


Elucidation of the mechanisms underpinning the immune system, especially the involvement of antibodies and the complement system, by Jules Bordet.

Puce, vecteur de l'agent de la peste. Dessin de Paul Louis Simond - Institut Pasteur


Identification of the role of fleas in the transmission of plague by Paul-Louis Simond.

Félix d'Herelle (1873-1949) dans son laboratoire vers 1936 - Institut Pasteur


Discovery of bacteriophages by Félix d'Hérelle. Bacteriophages are viruses that only replicate in bacteria.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, agent de la tuberculose - Institut Pasteur


Development of the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis by Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin.

André Lwoff (1902-1994) dans les années 1960 - Institut Pasteur


Discovery of the action mechanisms of growth factors by André Lwoff.

Virus de la fièvre jaune - Institut Pasteur


Development of a yellow fever vaccine by Jean Laigret.


Travaux de Jacques Trefouël sur les sulfamides - Institut Pasteur


Discovery of the anti-infectious action of sulfanomides by Jacques and Thérèse Tréfouël and Federico Nitti.


Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


Discoveries relating to antihistamines and curare-like agents by Daniel Bovet.

Poliovirus, agent de la poliomyélite. Image colorisée - Institut Pasteur


Development of a polio vaccine by Pierre Lépine.

Schéma général d'un opéron. Archives Jacques Monod - Institut Pasteur


Protein biosynthesis. Research on the regulation of enzyme synthesis and activity and the mechanisms of protein biosynthesis by Jacques Monod and François Jacob.

Récepteurs d'acétylcholine isolés et purifiés en 1970 par Jean-Pierre Changeux - Institut Pasteur



Isolation of the first neurotransmitter receptor, the acetylcholine receptor, by Jean-Pierre Changeux. Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger that transmits nerve impulses between nerve cells in the brain and between nerve cells and muscle fibers.


Lymphocyte T infecté par le Virus LAV (futur VIH) - Institut Pasteur


Discovery of the AIDS viruses, HIV1 then HIV2, by Luc Montagnier, Jean-Claude Chermann and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi.

Virus de l'hépatite B - Institut Pasteur


Development of the hepatitis B vaccine by P. Tiollais. The hepatitis B vaccine was the first human vaccine obtained by genetic engineering from animal cells.


Helicobacter pylori - Institut Pasteur


Development of a rapid diagnostic test for Helicobacter pylori bacteria by Agnès Labigne. Helicobacter pylori bacteria are responsible for stomach ulcers and cancer.

Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


Identification of genes responsible for deafness by Christine Petit.



Full sequencing of the genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae by Bernard Dujon.

Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


 Discovery of a nicotine dependence gene by Jean-Pierre Changeux.

Papillomavirus - Institut Pasteur


First discovery of a gene predisposing to papillomavirus infection in humans by Gérard Orth. Investigation of a potential link with psoriasis.

Virus chikungunya à la surface d'une cellule infectée - Institut Pasteur


Identification of the source of the chikungunya outbreak in the Indian Ocean by sequencing the genomes of viral strains.

Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


Explanation of the mechanism that enables the immune systems of "HIV controllers" – HIV-infected patients who do not go on to develop the disease – to control the AIDS virus. Gianfranco Pancino et al.

Néo-neurones dans un cerveau adulte - Institut Pasteur


A new source of neurons is identified in the adult brain. Alonso et al.

Myotube obtenu in vitro à partir de tissu musculaire humain - Institut Pasteur


The origins of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which give rise to all the body's immune and blood cells, are identified by Karima Kissa and Philippe Herbomel. HSCs are formed from cells in the embryo's aortic wall.

Un ganglion lymphatique en développement dans un foetus - Institut Pasteur


Fetuses spontaneously develop an immune defense system "in advance". Sawa et al.


Myotube obtenu in vitro à partir de tissu musculaire humain - Institut Pasteur


Muscle stem cells survive seven days post mortem. This discovery paves the way for a new source of stem cells, and more importantly for new methods of preserving these cells that are used to treat a number of diseases.

Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


AIDS: 14 adult patients manage to control their HIV infection more than seven years after stopping treatment. Sáez-Cirión et al.

Virus Ebola vu en microscopie électronique à transmission - Institut Pasteur


Identification of a new variant of the Ebola virus in Guinea.


Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


First case of prolonged remission – twelve years – in an HIV-infected child. Sáez-Cirión et al.


Louis Pasteur par Edelfelt, détail, 1886 - Institut Pasteur


Publication of the first whole genome sequence of the Zika virus circulating in the Americas.

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