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The Operon model


The American links
François Jacob Scientist
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Well, the Americans were there for a year. They brought in fresh ideas. They also brought the links with the American laboratories. At the time we often went to the United States. As a matter of fact, I think Lwoff and Monod were the first ones after the war... were the first ones to rush to the United States. I think they had both received Rockefeller grants. So there were links... They also got money for the lab from Rockefeller. I also got some straight away, as soon as I started to emerge and write papers, I also got... it worked very well.

[Q] And thankfully, because you weren't getting much help in France?

Not much, the Pasteur Institute didn't get any, and from the extra... Pasteur Institute, from the ministries we got very little. So, we had a little American money which was valuable. Which was especially valuable because we bought a lot of things in the United States. Machines... There was an extraordinary person, you knew her, Sarah. Sarah Rapkine who was the widow of a researcher called Rapkine, who was a friend of Lwoff and Monod. She was the one in charge of buying things in the United States. So we talked to her about the things we needed to buy, about money problems.

Alors les Américains ben ils étaient là pour un an. Ils apportaient beaucoup d'air frais. Ils apportaient aussi la liaison avec les laboratoires américains. On allait beaucoup aux Etats-Unis à cette époque-là. En fait, Lwoff et Monod ont été les premiers je crois, après la guerre... ont été les premiers à courir aux Etats-Unis. Ils avaient eu tous les deux je crois des bourses Rockefeller. Donc ils avaient des liens... Ils avaient aussi du fric pour le labo de Rockefeller. Moi j'en ai eu aussi tout de suite, dès que j'ai commencé à émerger et à signer les papiers, j'ai eu aussi des... Alors ça, ça marchait très bien.

[Q] Et heureusement, parce que vous n'en aviez pas beaucoup de France?

Pas beaucoup, l'Institut Pasteur n'en avait pas, et de l'extra-Institut Pasteur, des ministères, on en avait très peu. Alors, on avait un peu d'argent américain qui était précieux. Qui était précieux surtout parce qu'on achetait beaucoup de choses aux Etats-Unis. De machines... Alors il y avait un personnage extraordinaire, vous l'avez connu, Sarah. Sarah Rapkine qui était la veuve d'un chercheur qui s'appelait Rapkine, qui était un ami de Lwoff et de Monod. C'est elle qui s'occupait des achats aux Etats-Unis. Alors on discutait avec elle pour les achats, les problèmes d'argent.

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 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.

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'.

Tags: Pasteur Institute, André Lwoff, Jacques Monod, Sarah Rapkine

Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008