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Discovering surgery


My grandfather's influence
François Jacob Scientist
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My maternal grandfather: the General. He came from a very modest family. He went to the École Polytechnique and at that time there weren't many opportunities for Polytechnique graduates. He stayed in the army where he became a four star general. And he was quite a character. He's the one that gave me the majority of my education. Even philosophical. Yes, general. To the extent that you wanted to attend the École Polytechnique. He's the one who decided that I would go to Polytechnique. And I was the one who decided that I had absolutely no desire to endure mathematics for I don't know how many years, that it didn't particularly appeal to me.

Mon grand-père maternel, le Général... Il sortait d'une famille très modeste. Il a fait Polytechnique et à ce moment-là, il n'y avait pas tellement de possibilités dans les sorties de Polytechniques. Il est resté dans l'armée où il est devenu général à quatre étoiles. Et c'était un personnage. C'est lui qui a fait une grande part de mon éducation. Même philosophique. Oui, générale. A tel point que vous vouliez faire Polytechnique. C'est lui qui avait décidé que je ferais Polytechnique. Et c'est moi qui ai décidé que je n'avais aucune envie de me taper des mathématiques pendant je ne sais combien d'années, que ça ne m'amusait pas spécifiquement.

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: grandfather, École Polytechnique, general

Duration: 48 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008