Louis Pasteur - Father of Microbiology

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					Louis Pasteur was a French chemist who laid the foundations of modern
microbiology. He also revolutionized the life sciences with his radical
methods of study and experimentation. He is credited with numerous
discoveries and the development of processes such as pasteurization which
is widely used for sterilization. However, he is best remembered for his
cure of rabies, a dreaded disease which until then meant certain
death.Early Life and CareerLouis Pasteur was born into a poor family in
the town of Dole, France on December 27, 1822. His father was a tanner.
His early days were spent in the town of Arbois where he attended school.
Though he did not excel in school, the headmaster spotted Pasteur's
potential and persuaded his father to send him to Paris for further
studies.Pasteur enrolled in the Ecole Normale Superiere in Paris. He
obtained his doctorate in 1847 and became an assistant to a professor.
Pasteur's first brush with fame came when he was only 26 years old when
he made a revolutionary discovery on the polarization of light by
tartaric acid, an acid found in wine. Pasteur found that the crystals of
tartaric acid rotate light in two different directions because the
crystals are present in two forms which were mirror images of each other.
His findings drew acclaim amongst his peers.His pioneering work on
crystallography was lauded and he was elevated to the post of Professor
at the college of Strasbourg. From there he went on to hold many
distinguished academic positions in the reputed universities of the
time.He returned in 1856 to his alma mater, the Ecole Normale Superieure
as Administrator and Director of Scientific Studies. He later went on to
head the Science Faculty at the University of Lille. In 1867, he founded
a laboratory for the study of microbes, which came to be known as the
Pasteur Institute. It was here that he made the most famous and
influential of his discoveries, the cure for rabies - a deadly disease
which until then was incurable.Pasteur's DiscoveriesPasteur is remembered
for first establishing the connection between germs and disease. He
sought to apply all his scientific discoveries and ideas towards
practical purposes. In the 1860s, the French silk industry was struck
with a devastating epidemic. A mysterious disease was destroying the
silkworms. The infected worms died before spinning the cocoons. The eggs
which were infected did not hatch. In time, almost all the stock of
silkworms was infected. The French silk industry was in danger of being
wiped out. Alarmed, the French Government asked Pasteur to study the
problem.By observing the infected silk worms under a microscope, Pasteur
discovered that disease was caused by bacteria which spread through
contact between healthy and infected silk worms. He worked with the silk
industry and developed a method to isolate infected silk worms. This
halted the spread of the disease. The destroyed stock of silk worms was
repopulated with healthy silk worms and in due course the industry
recovered.Pasteur soon became a household name in France. More
importantly, this incident helped Pasteur focus and develop the 'germ
theory' of disease.The next object of Pasteur's study was the anthrax
epidemic, which was threatening the livestock in France. Pasteur managed
to isolate the anthrax microbe and weakened it by heating. He then
injected the weakened form of the virus into healthy animals. This helped
the animals develop resistance to the real anthrax microbe. He had
developed a vaccine against the disease. He applied the same method
against fowl cholera, a disease that affected poultry birds.Another
process in germ control to which Pasteur has lent his name is
Pasteurization -- a method of preservation that is widely used in the
dairy industry. Pasteur discovered that heating a liquid such as wine,
milk, etc to high temperatures for a short period of time kills the
microbes inside and increases the shelf life of the products.Pasteur and
RabiesAs remarkable as Pasteur's other discoveries are, the crowning
glory of his achievements was his development of a cure for rabies.
Rabies is caused by a virus. The virus passes from infected animals to
humans chiefly by means of bites. Most of the cases of rabies are
transmitted from dogs to man. Once the individual is infected, the virus
spreads and attacks the nervous system. The disease is 100% fatal if left
untreated.Pasteur sought to use the technique used in vaccination in his
fight against the deadly disease. He first obtained spinal cords from
animals which had died of rabies. Next, he dried them. He then extracted
the virus from the spinal cords and infected healthy rabbits with the
disease. Studying the tissues of the infected rabbits, he was able to
develop a cure for rabies. The cure was first tested on a young boy,
Joseph Meister who had bitten by a rabid dog. Meister recovered without
developing any of the symptoms of rabies.The incident was a milestone in
the history of medicine. Pasteur achieved international fame and
renown.Death and LegacyPasteur died in 1895 from complications caused by
a stroke. His remains are interred in a crypt at the Pasteur InstituteThe
Pasteur Institute, which he founded in 1887, is involved in the study of
microbiology and in the preparation of vaccines. Today, it has research
centers around the world. These centers focus on addressing medical
problems in various parts of the world.Over the course of his lifetime,
Pasteur made contributions to diverse fields such as biology, chemistry
and physics. He is hailed as a benefactor to humanity for his work on
rabies. The methods he used for experimentation and analysis are as
famous as his discoveries. He advocated simple and systematic
experimentation to come to conclusions.

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