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I discover and fall in love with science


Family influences: A scientist in a humanities-orientated family
Christian de Duve Scientist
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There was no physician in my family. There were a number of chemists and engineers among my German family. Some of my cousins occupied rather important positions in the chemical industry in Germany, in the IG-Farbenindustrie, the Bayer Nobel factories in Germany. So, I... I had contacts with that side but not, not in my Belgian family, not that I can think of at all. No, they were all rather... rather... either... either, you know, interested in the humanities or even in culture. I had an aunt who was a very good marine painter, sister of my father. Her husband was a composer who had been the director of the conservatory, the music school in Antwerp who played the organ in the cathedral and composed, even, an opera that was played every year in the Antwerp opera. Another uncle was a sculptor and so on, so we were rather a cultured family but not at all interested in science. My father's main interest was the French language. He was a stickler for grammatical precision, for good structure and so on, he was very strict also about manners and things of that kind but science, no, nobody talked about science.

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: family, humanities, cultural family

Duration: 1 minute, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008