Louis Pasteur: biography and contributions of the French bacteriologist

Louis Pasteur he was an important French chemist and bacteriologist, who made great contributions to the field of science, and in particular to the field of chemistry. He studied fermentation processes, discovered pasteurization and developed the rabies vaccine, among other discoveries.

For many, Pasteur was also the father of microbiology, a part of biology that studies microorganisms. In this article, we will briefly review the biography of Louis Pasteur: his origin, his career, his contributions, his research, his recognitions and his death.

    Louis Pasteur: Who will it be?

    Louis Pasteur was a renowned French scientist, as well as a chemist and bacteriologist. He was born December 27, 1822 in Dôle, Bourgogne, (France), and died September 28, 1895, at the age of 73, in Marnes-la-Coquette (also France). He spent his childhood in a small town called Arbois.

    Louis Pasteur has gone down in history for his great scientific discoveries in the field of chemistry and microbiology in particular. In addition, he made important contributions in the field of vaccines.

    Origin and personal life

    Louis Pasteur was the son of Jeanne-Étiennette Roquide and Jean-Joseph Pasteur. His father was a former sergeant to Napoleon.

    As for his personal life, Pasteur married Marie Laurent in 1849, with whom he had five children. However, three of them died young from typhus, and only two of them (Jean-Baptiste and Marie-Luise) reached adulthood.

    Academic beginnings and successes

    Academically, Pasteur obtained a doctorate in physics and chemistry from the École normale de Paris. Then he began to work as an assistant to a chemist named Dumas.

    He also started working in Dijon and Strasbourg, researching and teaching. Soon Pasteur began to be recognized by his investigations, and in 1843 received the first prize in physics from the Lycée Saint Louis.

    A few years later, in 1854, Pasteur arrived at the University of Lille. Here he is appointed professor of chemistry and dean of the faculty of science. 1857 becomes director of the Department of Sciences of the Ecole Normale de Paris.


    In the life of Louis Pasteur, discoveries and discoveries in the scientific field will soon begin to appear.

    His first discovery was when he was only 23, and that was the optical activity of space isomers; as a result of this discovery came stereoisomerism, a term in chemistry that relates to the structural formula and spatial arrangement of atoms.

    Pasteur also studied alcoholic fermentation, A biological fermentation process. He found in him a microbial origin, thanks to the discovery of a concrete substance in the same: amyl alcohol.


    One of Louis Pasteur’s most famous discoveries, and which bears his name, it was that of pasteurization.

    Through the study of fermentation, Pasteur discovered the following: When wine was heated to 55 ° C, its bacteria died, but its taste remained intact. This process, called pasteurization, has been a salvation for the wine industry and others.

    But pasteurization goes beyond wine, as Pasteur’s research has shown, also for the preservation of milk, for example.

    The chemist observed how by heating the milk (increasing its pressure and temperature, to around 80 ° C, or so) before bottling, then allowing it to cool rapidly, sand successfully remove microorganisms and bacteria from the substance without altering their qualities or composition. It was – and still is – pasteurization.

    Beyond pasteurization

    Louis Pasteur continued his research and began to work first in Arbois then in the company of Henri Marès de Fabrègues.

    What else did Pasteur find? He discovered that lactic and alcoholic fermentations have different ferments. In addition, he also observed that certain germs caused diseases in wine, such as fat, bitterness or acescence (chopped wine or “acetic acid).

    Louis Pasteur’s work on “Studies on wine, its diseases” was published in 1866, after having transferred the conclusions of his research to the Academy of Sciences a year earlier, in 1865.

    Other contributions: pebrina

    That same year, in 1865, Pasteur left Paris, where he worked as director of scientific studies at the Ecole Normale.

    Here they helped the silk industry in southern France. They were just going through a crisis, because a silkworm disease, la pebrina, had spread and become an epidemic.

    What Pasteur did was show that pebrina, in addition to being contagious, was hereditary.. This led him to conclude that they had to select disease-free eggs in order to continue to reproduce.

    Other fields: Medicine

    Pasteur’s discoveries and research have had repercussions beyond the field of chemistry and bacteriology, including medicine. Pasteur argued that the same thing that happened in fermentation processes, happened in diseases (in terms of their origin and course).

    In this way, he suggested that diseases arose from the action of certain germs., Who got inside the body, from the outside. He called this theory the “microbial theory of disease”. In fact, these claims have been widely debated by scientists and doctors around the world.


    Louis Pasteur also made his contribution in the field of vaccines. Pasteur has shown that anthrax, a fatal disease in cattle, is caused by a certain bacillus (a type of bacteria).

    Following this discovery, he believed that a form of the disease (mild) could be induced in cattle, by the administration of this type of weakened or inactivated bacteria. So he did so, in order to immunize the cattle against the deadly charcoal attack. His research and experiments have yielded promising results.

    Beyond cattle, Pasteur also applied the vaccine to humans. So in 1885 he administered a vaccine to a young man who had been bitten by a dog with rabies. Through treatment that lasted ten days, the young man was inoculated with the virus, recovered and cured. The rabies vaccine is still in use today, being effective in saving large numbers of people.

    Death and inheritance

    After a professional career rich in great contributions and discoveries in the scientific field and in particular in the chemical field, Louis Pasteur died at the age of 73 in Marnes-la-Coquette (France).

    His death occurred on September 28, 1895, following a cardiopulmonary arrest. Today, his legacy is still alive, transmitting his knowledge in schools, universities, institutes, research centers, etc.

    Oddly enough, the following words can be read on Pasteur’s gravestone: “Blessed is he who carries with him an ideal, an inner God, whether it be the ideal of the homeland, the ideal of science or simply the virtues. of the Gospel “.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Agut, J. (2016). Pioneers of microbiology: Louis Pasteur. Bibliographic review, University of Seville.

    • Ehrhard, F. (1959). Louis Pasteur, the man and his work.

    • Parker, S. (1993). Louis Pasteur and the germs. Madrid: Celeste Publishing.

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