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The injury that ended my career as a surgeon


The landing in France
François Jacob Scientist
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We weren't in the D-day, we were in a... D-day took place on the 6th of June. And we arrived in France on the 1st of August. And I got injured on the 8th of August. It happened very quickly. So it was, so we were... we reached the south of England in June, near Southampton. That's where we boarded the landing boats. It was also very picturesque. My company was on one of those small boats, and there was an absolutely exceptional commander. Who had a British sailor's face and a ginger beard. And we board the boat, it was dark, we leave, we hear the sound of two-three impacts and the engine stops. And we stop moving. That was really a little worrying because it was the English Channel. So we wait. The next morning, we look, we had gone... It was a sort of boulevard that went from England to Normandy, there were boats going in one direction... Not a soul around, and eventually, the commander came out, this tall re-headed man, he took one of those cans of soups, that was heated on a fire and there you had the soup. And on that note he looked into the horizon and said, 'Over there' and he went to join the... But we were on our own in the Channel, which was very unpleasant, because there were a lot of other people around and planes and stuff everywhere. But it all went well in the end.

Nous n'étions pas dans le débarquement, nous étions dans une... Le débarquement a eu lieu le 6 juin. Et nous sommes arrivés en France le 1er août. Et j'ai été blessé le 8 août. Ça a été très vite. Alors là c'était, donc on était... On est venu dans le sud de l'Angleterre en juin, près de Southampton. Et on était embarqués sur les bateaux du débarquement là. C'était aussi assez pittoresque. On était sur un de ces petits bateaux, la compagnie où j'étais, et il y avait un commandant qui était absolument extraordinaire. Qui avait une gueule de marin anglais avec une barbe rousse. Et on monte sur le bateau, c'était la nuit, on part, on entend deux, trois chocs et les moteurs s'arrêtent. Et on ne bouge plus. Ça c'était quand même un peu inquiétant parce que c'était dans la Manche. Alors on attends. Le lendemain matin, on regarde, on était parti... C'était une espèce de boulevard qui allait de l'Angleterre à la Normandie, il y avait des bateaux qui allaient dans un sens... Plus un chat, et finalement, le commandant est sorti, ce grand rouquin, il a pris une de ces boîtes de soupe,il y avait des boîtes de soupe on mettait le feu, ça chauffait, on buvait la soupe. Et puis là-dessus, il a regardé l'horizon et il a dit, 'Là-bas' et il est allé rejoindre le... Mais on était seul dans la Manche, ce qui était fort déplaisant, parce que beaucoup d'autres gens et d'avions et de trucs partout. Mais ça s'est bien passé quand même.

François Jacob (1920-2013) was a French biochemist whose work has led to advances in the understanding of the ways in which genes are controlled. In 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Jacque Monod and André Lwoff, for his contribution to the field of biochemistry. His later work included studies on gene control and on embryogenesis. Besides the Nobel Prize, he also received the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 1996 and was elected a member of the French Academy in 1996.

Listeners: Michel Morange

Michel Morange is a professor of Biology and Director of the Centre Cavaillès of History and Philosophy of Science at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. After having obtained a Bachelor in biochemistry and two PhDs, one in Biochemistry, the other in History and Philosophy of Science, he went on to join the research unit of Molecular Genetics headed by François Jacob, in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. Together with Olivier Bensaude, he discovered that Heat Shock Proteins are specifically expressed on the onset of the mouse zygotic genome activation. Since then he has been working on the properties of Heat Shock Proteins, their role in aggregation and on the regulation of expression of these proteins during mouse embryogenesis. He is the author of 'A History of Molecular Biology' and 'The Misunderstood Gene'.

Michel Morange est généticien et professeur à L'Université Paris VI ainsi qu'à l'Ecole Normale Supérieure où il dirige le Centre Cavaillès d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences. Après l'obtention d'une license en Biochimie ainsi que de deux Doctorats, l'un en Biochimie, l'autre en Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences, il rejoint le laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire dirigé par le Professeur François Jacob à l'Institut Pasteur. Ses principaux travaux de recherche se sont portés sur l'Histoire de la Biologie au XXème siècle, la naissance et le développement de la Biologie Moléculaire, ses transformations récentes et ses interactions avec les autres disciplines biologiques. Auteur de "La Part des Gènes" ainsi que de "Histoire de la Biologie Moléculaire", il est spécialiste de la structure, de la fonction et de l'ingénerie des protéines.

Tags: Normandy, English Channel

Duration: 1 minute, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008