On November 7, 2023, the Grancher Foundation celebrated its 120th anniversary on the Institut Pasteur campus. The Foundation was established by Dr. Joseph Grancher. It was an opportunity for the Institut Pasteur's President to pay tribute to the physician best known for his work on tuberculosis – a disease that the Institut Pasteur continues to fight.
"We are here to pay tribute to this major figure in Pasteurian research and French medical history [Dr. Jacques Joseph Grancher]," said Institut Pasteur President Prof. Stewart Cole in his introduction to the 120th anniversary of the Grancher Foundation on November 7, 2023.
A humanist vision of research that contributes to improving human health
Dr. Grancher worked with Louis Pasteur in the late 19th century. In 1885, he became the first person to administer the rabies vaccine to a human: a boy called Joseph Meister. However, Grancher is best known for his work on tuberculosis. Like Louis Pasteur, Grancher was a hands-on scientist. Throughout his life, he applied his scientific knowledge of tuberculosis to the diagnosis and treatment of young children suffering from the disease.
Towards the end of his life, he took inspiration from Louis Pasteur's work on silkworms to establish the "Œuvre Grancher" association, which aimed to protect children from tuberculosis by sending them to foster families in the countryside, far away from clusters of infection. In the 1970s, the association turned its attention to finding homes for children separated from their parents as part of the wider child protection movement. The virus responsible for AIDS (HIV) was identified on May 20, 1983. The first case of a child with AIDS was confirmed at Necker Hospital in 1984. In November 1992, the Œuvre expanded, providing ten places in foster homes in Paris for children with HIV.
In 2001, the Œuvre became the Grancher Foundation.
This physician perfectly embodied Pasteur’s vision of the ‘continuum’ between basic research and applications that could contribute to improving human health. "This humanist vision is still at the heart of our ambitions at the Institut Pasteur and within the Pasteur Network worldwide," says Prof. Stewart Cole.
Read the Institut Pasteur’s "Human health central to the priorities of the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan"
Tuberculosis: scientists carry on the fight
Research into tuberculosis advanced significantly since Grancher’s work in the 20th century with
- the development of the BCG vaccine in 1921 by Institut Pasteur researchers Calmette and Guérin
- the development of the first multi-drug therapy in 1960,
- and the decoding of the tuberculosis bacillus genome at the Institut Pasteur in 1998.
Between 2000 and 2021, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis saved 74 million lives according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"The battle goes on, because resistance to antimicrobial agents, the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts have severely hampered the fight against tuberculosis, particularly among the most vulnerable populations," says the Institut Pasteur President. "It is estimated that 10.6 million people contracted tuberculosis in 2021, an increase of 4.5% on 2020." For the first time in many years, there has been an increase in the number of people developing the disease and its drug-resistant form.
The Institut Pasteur continues its research in this area in collaboration with a number of public and private bodies around the world, such as the European Regimen Accelerator for Tuberculosis (ERA4TB) initiative launched by the European Commission, which aims to develop novel, more effective and safer treatments for all forms of tuberculosis, and of which Prof. Stewart Cole is scientific coordinator.