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Drosophilia and the mouse
François Jacob Scientist
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It was very difficult at the time. It was obvious that Drosophila and even roundworms were much simpler, but mainly Drosophila, because there were 50, 60, 70 years of genetics, mutants absolutely everywhere, rearrangements, translocations, this and that, it was fantastic. And effectively it was with Drosophila that the most important things were done. But it wasn't easy to import Drosophila over here. Whereas the mouse, it sort of was the support for everything that was to be done.

Basically, you had anticipated the mouse, but the tools only arrived 10 or 15 years after you took that decision. Yes.

But well, it was reasonable.

C'était très difficile à l'époque. C'est évident que la drosophile et même le nématode, c'était beaucoup plus simple. Mais surtout la drosophile, parce qu'il y avait 50 ans, 60 ans, 70 ans de génétique, des mutants absolument à tout les azimuts, des remaniements, des translocations, des trucs et des machins, c'était fantastique. Et c'est effectivement avec la drosophile qu'ont été faites les choses les plus importantes. Mais ce n'était pas très commode d'importer de la drosophile ici. Alors que la souris, c'était un peu le support de tout ce qui allait se faire sur- Au fond, vous aviez anticipé la souris, mais simplement les outils sont arrivés 10 ou 15 ans après la décision que vous aviez prise. Oui. Mais enfin, c'était raisonnable.

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'.

Duration: 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008