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My mother's death and the collapse of the regime


Discovering surgery
François Jacob Scientist
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Et alors, j'avais un oncle qui était médecin. Je suis allé le voir et je lui ai dit- Je veux faire de la médecine, je voudrais être chirurgien. Il m'a dit, 'La chirurgie, c'est complètement stupide, il faut être médecin'. Et puis d'ailleurs si, 'Tu ne tiendras pas, la chirurgie, tu vas te mettre à vomir dès que tu verras un bout de bistouri'. Alors, il m'a envoyé chez un de ses copains pour voir une opération. J'ai trouvé ça formidable et j'ai décidé que je serai chirurgien, malgré l'oncle.

[Q] Vous décrivez d'ailleurs l'impression que vous a fait la première opération, cette ambiance de travail sérieux...

Ah oui, oui, ça j'ai trouvé ça formi... Là, il m'a envoyé justement chez un de ses copains chirurgien et j'ai trouvé ça formidable. C'était des types... Il n'y avait pas un geste de trop, c'était très étonnant.

And so, I had an uncle who was a doctor. I went to see him and said to him, 'I want to study medicine, I would like to become a surgeon'. He said to me, 'Surgery, that's really stupid, you need to be a doctor'. And besides if... you be able won't to handle surgery, you'll start vomiting at the first glimpse of a scalpel. So, he sent me to see one of his friends to attend an operation. I found it incredible and decided that I would be a surgeon, in spite of the uncle.

[Q] In fact, you describe the impression you had during the first operation, this atmosphere of serious work...

Well, yes, yes, I found it... he had precisely sent me to see one of his surgeon friends and I found it incredible. They were guys... There wasn't a single gesture out of place, it was really really astonishing.

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: surgery, medicine, surgeon, operation

Duration: 47 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008