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Setting up a lab: A grant from Eli Lilly and Company


Becoming Professor of Biochemistry at Louvain
Christian de Duve Scientist
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12 years. 12 years from the moment I entered university in 1934 and the moment... Did I say 12 years? 14... 13 years... December 1947, when I came back... January 1948, actually – came back to Louvain where, in the meantime, I had been appointed a lecturer... Chargé de cours, as we call it, in biochemistry at the medical faculty. Now, strangely enough I had got the job even though I was not the nephew of a bishop or the son of a professor. But it turns out that the Professor of Biochemistry – a man called Malengreau who was an organic chemist, as I said – had had... had lost interest in biochemistry, or even in organic chemistry, because he'd become involved in medical education, in what was then the Belgian Congo, so he started... he was very much involved in that, and he had a young man who was supposed to... to succeed him, as a Professor of Biochemistry at the university, and this young man was a victim of the war, not... in fact, he died of tuberculosis during the war, and so, again, this rather sad accident opened the job, and so the Professor of Biochemistry called my physiology professor and said, 'I understand de Duve is training in biochemistry; the job is open for him.' And so I got appointed.

Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve (1917-2013) was best known for his work on understanding and categorising subcellular organelles. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 for his joint discovery of lysosomes, the subcellular organelles that digest macromolecules and deal with ingested bacteria.

Listeners: Peter Newmark

Peter Newmark has recently retired as Editorial Director of BioMed Central Ltd, the Open Access journal publisher. He obtained a D. Phil. from Oxford University and was originally a research biochemist at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School in London, but left research to become Biology Editor and then Deputy Editor of the journal Nature. He then became Managing Director of Current Biology Ltd, where he started a series of Current Opinion journals, and was founding Editor of the journal Current Biology. Subsequently he was Editorial Director for Elsevier Science London, before joining BioMed Central Ltd.

Tags: 1934, January 1948, Fernand Malengreau

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008