Louis Pasteur: A Biography

Timeline created by LHLref
  • Birth

    Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822, to Jean-Joseph Pasteur and Jeanne-Etiennette Roqui.
  • Period: to

    Louis Pasteur Lifespan

  • Baccalaureate Degree in Science

    Pasteur receives his bachelor of science degree at the University of Dijon.
  • Licencié ès Sciences

    In 1845, Pasteur earns the equivolent of a M.S. from Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, and attracts the attention of French chemist Antoine-Jerome Balard, newly appointed professor at Ecole Normale.
  • Chosen as a preparateur

    Despite average grades in physical sciences, Pasteur is chosen by Balard as his preparateur, or graduate assistant.
  • Doctorate in Science

    Pasteur defended his two thesis: one in physics, and the other in chemistry. His thesis papers earned him a position as a professor of physics at the secondary school, Dijon Lycée.
  • First published paper on dimorphism

    MÉMOIRE SUR LA RELATION QUI PEUR EXISTER ENTRE LA FORME CRISTALLINES ET LA COMPOSITION CHIMIQUE, ET SUR LA CAUSE DE LA POLARISATION ROTATOIREPasteur's first major discovery: molecular symmetry, was presented to the Academy of Sciences by his mentor, Balard, and was titled "On the relation that can exist between crystalline form and chemical composition, and on the cause of rotational polarization."
  • Pasteur's first report to the Academy of Sciences

    In this report, which is presented to the Academie des sciences by M. Balard, Pasteur discusses his recent findings in chrystalography. The report is titled "on the relation that can exist between crystalline form and chemical composition, and on the cause of rotational polarization."
  • Biot & Pasteur become acquainted

    When Balard announced Pasteur's first experiment concerning crystallography, he caught the interest of Jean Baptiste Biot, a noted scientist & member of the Academy who had worked in crystalography for years. Pasteur, hearing that Biot was interested in his experiment, he wrote to Biot, wanting to meet & discuss his experiment. Biot went on to be Pasteur's mentor & fast friend
  • Pasteur is appointed professor of physics at lycee of Dijon

    After receiving his doctorate, Pasteur is appointed the professor of physics as Lycee of Dijon, the equivolent to a secondary school.
  • Appointed at the University of Strasbourg

    Shortly after accepting a position at Dijon Lycée, Pasteur leaves to accept a position as the chair of chemistry in the Faculty of Science of Strasbourg University
  • Second report on molecular dissymmetry

    Pasteur presents a second report to the Acadmie on molecular dissymetry
  • Note on the composition of racemic acid

    Composed a note to the Academie des sciences on the work he conducted in 1849 on the composition of racemic acid.
  • Chair of Chemistry at Stasbourg

    Pasteur accepts the roles of professor of chemistry and dean of the Faculty of Science at Lille
  • Note to the Academie concerning racemic acid

    Pasteur composed a brief letter to the academie des sciences concerning the origin of racemic acid. (Racemic acid, at the time, was a term for optically inactive tartaric acid- a naturally occuring acid present in many plants, and is one of the main acids found in wine.)
  • Transforming Acids

    Pasteur is able to successfully transform tartaric acid into racemic acid, and relays his accomplishment to Biot.
  • The Academie takes note

    Five days after Pasteur told him of his discovery, Biot informs the Academie des sciences that Pasteur has successfully transformed tartaric acid to racemic acide.
  • The Legion d'honneur

    Pasteur is made a chevalier (knight) in the imperial order of the Legion d'honneur (the order is the highest decoration in France, established by Napoleon in 1902).
  • Recognition by the Pharmaceutical Society

    Pasteur receives a price of 1500 francs from the Pharmaceutical Society for the synthesis of racemic acid. The original competition was announced in 1851, and it took two years for Pasteur to provide a precise account & scientific proof.
  • Report on dimorphism in optically active substances

    Pasteur sends a report to the Academie des sciences on dimorphism in optically active substances. (something that is optically active means that the molecule/substance cannot be superimposed on its mirror image)
  • Accepts position at University of Lille

    In September of 1954, Pasteur accepts the position of professor of chemistry and dean of the new Faculty of Science at Lille.
  • Amyl alcohol paper

    Pasteur tells teh Academie des sciences of his paper concerning amyl alcohol.
  • Fermentation Research begins

    In November of 1856, Pasteur was introducted to E. Bigo, a beer & wine manufacturer, who'd run into problems with his stock of beet alcohol spoiling before it could be sold.
  • Candidacy for the Academie des sciences

    A vacancy occurs in the mineralogy and geology section of the Academie, for which Pasteur becomes nominated as a candidate.
  • The Rumford Medal

    Pasteur receives the Rumford Medal of the London Royal Society for his work in crystallography.
  • Loses the election to the Academie

    Gabriel Delafosse, a crystallographer & mineralographer, won the seat in the Academie des sciences over Pasteur.
  • Birth of microbiology

    On August 3, the Society for the Advancement of Science at lille published a paper on lactic fermentation.
  • Appointed Administrator & Director of Scientific Studies at Ecole Normale

    Pasteur was given the position of Administrator and Director of Scientific Studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris.
  • Presented the paper "Lactate Fermentation"

    Studies in FermentaitonIn August of 1857, Pasteur presented "Lactate Fermentation" to the Société des Sciences de Lille (Science Society of Lille). This presentation would be published soon after as a Memoire (Mémoire sur la fermentation appelée lactique), and became the foundation for Pasteur's germ theory & battle in disproving spontaneous generation.
  • Second paper published on alcoholic fermentation

    Pasteur published & presented a second paper on alcoholic fermentation to teh Academie de Sciences
  • Paper on the fermentation of tartaric acid

    Pasteur publishes a paper focusing on the fermentation of tartaric acid
  • Observed germs in diseased wine

    In August, while on vacation at Arbois, Pasteur found that the germs he observed in bottles of diseased wines were very similar to those found in lactic fermentation.
  • The starting point of spontaneous generation research

    Félix-Archimede Pouchet publishes a paper on spontaneous generation entitled, "Note on the plant and animal proto-organisms born spontaneously in artificial air or oxygen gas." This paper became the starting point for Pasteur's work on spontaneous generation.
  • Pasteur's letter to Pouchet

    After Pasteur's "Mémoire pour servir a l'histoire de l'acide lactique" stated that leavening had its origin in the air of the atmosphere, Pouchet took offence and insisted his fellow scientist explain himself. Pasteur wrote his response in a letter dated 28, February, 1859, in which he completely renounced the theory of spontaneous generation, which began a feud between the two scientists.
  • Mémoire sur la fermentation alcoolique is published

    In 1860, Pasteur's 43 page paper on alcoholic fermentation,
    Mémoire sur la fermentation alcoolique was published. This paper proved yeast molecules' involvement in the fermentation process, a discovery that will help Pasteur in his research against spontaneous generation.
    (You may view a digitized version of the original French text above.)
  • Report presented on molecular dissymetry

    In the middle of his fermentation & spontaneous generation experiments, Pasteur presented a detailed report on his research in molecular dissymetry to the Chemical Society of Paris.
  • Second report on moleclar dissymetry

    Pasteur presented on the topic of molecular dissymetry a second time a few weeks after his first report to the Chemical Society of Paris.
  • Air samples for spontaneous generation

    In August of 1860, Pasteur collected air samples at Arbois to further his spontaneous generation research.
  • More air samples collected

    On the 20th of September, additional air samples were collected at Chamonix
  • Anaerobic life

    In 1861, Pasteur officially discovered anaerobic life while observing butyric acid fermentation. This discovery introduced the terms anaerobic & aerobic. "Anaerobic" means 'without oxygen' while "aerobic" means 'with oxygen.'
  • Lecture on Spontaneous Generation

    Pasteur lectured on the doctrine of spontaneous generation at the Chemical Society of Paris
  • 2nd lecture at the Chemistry Society of Paris

    Pasteur's lecture was titled, "Memoir on the Organized Corpuscles which Exist in the Atmosphere: An Examination of the Doctrine of Spontaneous Generation" which included all of his research and observations from studying fermentation in Lille, & other experaments.
  • Complete findings on fermentation published

    Pasteur Institute Timeline Pasteur saw the publication of his findings on vinegar in the Paris Chemistry Society bulletin.
  • The jecker prize of the Academie des sciences

    Pasteur receives the Jecker Prize of the Academie des sciences for his work on spontaneous generation. The report was submitted by M. Chevreuil.
  • Role of mycodermas in acetic fermentation explained

    In a paper presented to the Academie des sciences, Pasteur explained the role of mycodermas in acetic fermentation. Mycoderma, also called "flower of wine," is a yeast like organism that forms on the surface of wine once it's exposed to air.
  • Death of Biot

    On the 2nd of April, Biot, Pasteur's long time mentor and friend, died in Paris.
  • The birth of pasteurization

    While attempting to find a solution that prevented beer & wine from going sour, Pasteur, along with Claude Bernard, inadvertantly create what is now known as the pasteurization method. By heating food/drink to a certain temperature (50-60degrees Celcius/ 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit) for a specific time period, then cooling it, they discovered it rid the substance of bacteria.
  • Paper on industrial vinegar production

    Pasteur presented a paper on an industrial process for vinegar production to the Academie des sciences.
  • Awarded the Alhumbert Prize for his research on spontaneous generation

    Because of Pasteur's report submitted to the Academy by C. Bernard, Pasteur received the Prix Alhumbert for his research on spontaneous generation.
  • Elected to the Academie

    Pasteur is elected to be a Memero of the Academie des sciences' mineralogy section.
  • Pasteur meets Napoleon III

    Emperor Napoleon III reuqests that Pasteur research wine & its diseases.
  • Paper on the destruction of organic matter after death

    This paper presented to the Academie discussed the destruction of plant and animal matter after death.
  • Presented a paper to the Academie on putrefaction

  • Appointed professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts

    Pasteur is appointed professor of geology, physics, and chemistry at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and will keep this position until 1867.
  • paper on atmospheric oxygen's role in vinification

    Vinification is the process of fermenting and making wine.
  • Pasteur addresses the Sorbonne Scientific Soirée

    On April 7, after years of experiments and research, Pasteur presented his findings on spontaneous generation in front of the <i>Sorbone Scientific Soiree</i>, giving solid evidence that helped disprove the long-accepted theory. The debate with M. Pouchet continues.
    "On Sponaneous Generation"
  • Paper on wine diseases given to the Academie

  • Laboratory for the study of wine set up in Arbois

    The exact date of this event is unknown.
  • Paper on improving the manufacturing of wine

    Pasteur presents a paper on practical processes for the preserving and improving of wine to the Academie des sciences.
  • Paper on the heating of wine

  • First observes the diseases of silkworms.

    Pasteur was asked to observe diseases effecting silkworms, which had started to hurt the silk industry of France.
  • Cholera outbreak

    In October & November of 1865, a cholera epidemic hits Paris. Pasteur is appointed to a commission in order to investigate the disease.
  • Invited to the Palace of Compiegne

    Pasteur received an invitation to the Palace of Compiegne for November 29- December 6, where he was able to personally meet and converse with Napoleon III.
  • Paper on the diseases of the silkworm

  • "Etudes sur le vin" is published

    Pasteur's "Etudes sur le vin" is published, igniting a controversy on the priority of wine heating techniques.
  • Article on Claude Bernard is published

    Pasteur publishes an article on the achievements of Claude Bernard in the paper Moniteur.
  • 2nd paper on silkworms is published

  • Pasteur studies 'flacherie' at Ales

    In May, Pasteur studies the silkworm disease 'flacherie,' which comes from the silkworms ingesting infected mulberry leaves.
  • A Grand Prize at the World's Fair

    Pasteur receives one of the Grand Prizes for his work on vinous (wine) fermentation.
  • Closing of the Ecole normale school

    Following months of unrest at the school, the Ecole normale closes and its directors, including Pasteur, resign.
  • Pasteur's physiological chemistry laboratory

    Pasteur requests the creation of a laboratory for physiological chemistry at the Ecole normale.
  • Balard's successory

    While his physiological chemistry laboratory is being built, he succeeds Balard to the chair of organic chemistry at teh Sorbonne (University of Paris).
  • Lecture on vinegar making

    Pasteur gives a lecture on vinegar making to regional manufacturers at Orleans.
  • Resignation from Ecole des Beaux-Arts

    Pasteur resigns from his professorial position at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
  • Doctor of Medicine from Bonn University

    In 1868, (exact date unknown), Pasteur receives a degree of Doctor of Medicine 'honoris causa' from Bonn University in Germany.
  • Publication of the pamphlet Le Budget de la science

  • Publication of the 'Etudes sur le vinaigre'

  • Promoted to commander of the Legion d'honneur

  • Pasteur suffers from a stroke

    Pasteur suffered from a severe brain stroke which left him partially paralyzed on his left side.
  • Silkworm disease research resumes

    In February of 1869, Pasteur is able to resume his research on silkworm diseases at the laboratories in both Ales & Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort.
  • Stay at Villa Vicentina

    In December of 1869, Paseur started to oversee an experimental silkworm farm at the imperial estate at the request of napoleon III.
  • 'Etudes sur la maladie des vers a soie' is published

    Pasteur's 'Studies on the disease of silkworms' is published in March
  • Appointed senator of the Empire

    Pasteur was appointed senator of the Empire, but when the Franco-Prussian War broke out, the decree is never put into effect.
  • Pasteur returns his honorary doctorate

    After learning of the Prussian bombing of the Paris Museum, Pasteur returns his diploma of his honorary Doctorate of Medicine from Bonn University.
  • First research about beer

    Between May & August, Pasteur stayed at Clermont-Ferrand. During his stay, he visited the Kuhn brewery at Chamalieres, beginning his research on beer.
  • Patents a beer-making process

    Pasteur takes out a patent for a special beer-making process.
    (the full patent document can be viewed on the US Patent Office's site here)
  • Study of beer in London

    In Mid-September, Pasteur travels to London to further study beer production at the English breweries. Here, he meets the prominent physisist John Tyndall.
  • Applies for early retirement

    Pasteur applies for early retirement as professor at the Sorbonne.
  • Brazilian Order of the Rose

    Pasteur is made a commander in the Brazilian Order of the Rose
  • New process that prevents the alteration of beer

    After spending time at the Tourtel Brewery at Tontonville, Pasteur goes public with a process of making beer that prevents its alteration.
  • Pasteur is granted a National Reward

    The National Assembly committee, headed by Paul Bert, grants Pasteur a National Reward.
  • Pasteur speaks at the award ceremony at the lycee of Arbois

  • Copley medal to Pasteur

    The Royal Society of London awards the Copley medal to Pasteur for his work on fermentation
  • Fermentation laboratory installed at Arbois

    Between June 7 October of 1875, Pasteur had a laboratory installed in Arbois for the purposeof further studying fermentation.
  • Debating with Dr. Bastian

    Bastian & Pasteur on Spontaneous Generation, by H. SlackOn July 10, 1875, Dr. Bastian published a paper in the Comptes Rendus (a scientific journal published by the French Academy of Sciences), titled "On the Influence of Psyico-Chemical Forces in the Phenominon of Fermentation," that tried to demonstrate the truth of spontaneous generation This paper began a flurry of published letters and papers between the two scientists concerning the existe
  • Publishes 'Etudes sur la biere'

  • Paper about the fermentation of urine is published

  • International Silk Growers' Convention

    Pasteur represents France at the 1876 International Silk Growers' Convention in mid-September in Milan.
  • Paper on anthrax presented to the Academie des sciences

  • Death of Claude Bernard

  • Experiments with anthrax

    In September of 1878, Pasteur,along with verternarian Vinsot, conducted experiments with anthrax at a farm near Chartres.
  • Grand Officer of the Legion d'honneur

    In October, Pasteur was promoted from chevalier (knight) to a grand officer.
  • Observations & notes on chicken cholera

  • Paper on puerperal septicemia

    Puerperal septicemia is a post-pregnancy infection of the uterus and surrounding tissues. It was a leading cause of infant & mother death at the time.
  • Discovery of a vaccine obtained from attenuated cultures

    In September of 1879, Pasteur discovered a vacceine from attenuated cultures.
    An attenuated vaccine is one created from weakened or watered down virus.
  • Appointed to the Central Society of Veterinary Medicine

  • Paper on virulent diseases

    The principle of virus vaccines is expressed for the first time.
  • Paper on chicken cholera

  • A paper on germ theory

    In this paper, germ theory is extended to include the etiology, or causation, of boils, osteomyelitis (an infetion of the bone), and puerperal fever.
  • Paper on the role of earthworms in the spreading of anthrax

  • Pasteur threatens to resign from the Academie

  • Pasteur is challenged to a duel

    After refusing to give specificts on how he was able to successfully prepare a vaccination against chicken cholera to the Academie, scientist and Academie member Jules Guerin challenged Pasteur's truthfullness. On the afternoon of October 4, after a debate turned into a flurry of insults, the 80 year old Guerin, who still remained to be convinced on Pasteur's germ theory in general, threw himself bodily at Pasteur and had to be restrained. The next day, the 5th, he challenged Pasteur to a duel.
  • Pasteur begins to work on rabies

    In December of 1880, Pasteur moves his research focus from chicken cholera to rabies.
  • Paper on the attenuation of viruses

    Pasteur wrote about the phenonenon of attenuation, or gradual loss of intensity, of viruses followed by renewed virulence.
  • Experiments with anthrax vaccination

    In May, at the farm of Pouilly-le-Fort near Melun, Pasteur started experimenting with the anthrax vaccination.
  • Reports of the experiments sent to the Academies

    Reports of the anthrax vaccine experiments are sent to the Academie des sciences & the academie de medicine.
  • Announces candidacy for a seat at the Academie francaise

  • Receives the Grand-Croix of the Legion d'honneur

    In July of 1881, Pasteur becomes a recipient of the highest award in the Legion d'honneur, the Grand-Croix, or Grand Cross.
  • Paper on the virus vaccines

    Paper on the virus vaccines for chicken cholera and anthrax is presented to the International Congress of Medicine in London.
  • Begins studies on yellow fever

    In late September, Pasteur travels to Bordeaux to study yellow fever.
  • Elected to the Academie francaise

  • Antianthrax vaccinations at Nimes

    In May, Pasteur's anthrax vaccine was administered to almost half a million sheep, marking the beginning of the commercialization of the vaccine.
  • Paper on cattle pleuropneumonia

    Pleuropneumonia occurs when pneumonia is complicated with a case of pleurisy, or an inflammation of the tissues that line the lung & chest cavity. The infection is particularly contageous, causing a significant drop in cattle vitality in the 1800s
  • First dog made resistant to rabies

  • Response to criticism of anthrax vaccination

    In May of 1883, the committee of the Veterinary School of Turin was very vocal about their scepticism of Pasteur's anthrax vaccination.
  • 2nd National Reward granted to Pasteur

  • Vaccination against swine erysipelas

    Vaccination against swine erysipelas (a recurring bacterial infection that effects the skin, with severe fever & swelling) with an weakened virus.
  • Publication of the first biography about Pasteur

    Histoire d'un savant par un ignorant, written by Rene Vallery-Radot, was published
  • Paper on rabies

  • Additional papers on rabies

  • Experiments with dogs resistant to rabies

    Pasteur conducted experiments with dogs resistant to rabies for the rabies commission
  • A lab is set up exclusively to study rabies

    In order to better study rabies, a lab is set up in the Parc du Saint-Cloud, that is exclusively for the study of the infection.
  • Paper on rabies in humans

    Paper presented to the International Congress of Medicine in Copenhagen on the vaccination & preventive methods against rabies in humans.
  • Letter to Pedro II of Brazil concerning human vaccination of rabies

    Pasteur wrote a letter to Brazil's Pedro II concerning the experimental use of the rabies vaccine on humans.
  • Anti-rabies vaccine trials

    Between May & June of 1885, the first human trials of the rabies vaccine began.
  • Vaccination of Joseph Meister

    While still in the middle of human trials for the rabies virus, Pasteur was approached by a mother who's 9 year old son, Joseph, had been bitten upwards of 14 times by their neighbor's rabid dog. This was the first time Pasteur applied the vacceine to a human, and 12 days later, the vaccination was deemed successful, making Joseph Meister the first successful human vaccinated for rabies.
  • Vaccination of Jean-Baptiste Jupille

    Pasteur receives a letter from the mayor of a small town in central France by the name of Villers-Farlay, requesting his rabies vaccination for a teenaged shepherdboy who'd been bitten by a rabid dog while trying to distract it from his younger counterparts. Pasteur was not able to reach the boy until about a week after he'd been bitten, so there were doubts about if the vacceine would be effective. Fortunately, this was another successful case.
  • More successful human rabies vaccinations

    Between November 9 & the end of 1885, Pasteur vaccinated 5 other children: Louise Pelletier on the 9th of November, and four children sent from America in December.
  • Donations come in for the creation of an antirabies institute

  • A subscription for the founding of an antirabies vaccine institute opens

  • Fundraising gala for the Institut Pasteur

    A fundraising gala organized by the "Scientia" Society is held at the Trocadero palace.
  • Jules Rouyer, vaccinated for rabies a month prior, dies

    The child's father sues Pasteur, but the case is dismissed in January 1887, saying the boy had died from an unrelated injury obtained weeks after the innoculation
  • First issue of the 'Annales de l'Institut Pasteur is published

  • World-wide controversies over rabies

    The death of Rouyer sparked a series of controversies that spanned the globe. Many scientists wanted to prove that Pasteur's method wasn't ready, or was completely false. However, Pasteur solidly argued & proved his case time & time again, keeping his vaccination method widely accepted.
    (More information on these controversies can be found in this book)
  • A building site is purchased for the future Institut Pasteur

  • Official statutes of the Institut Pasteur are created

  • Elected as the perpetual secretary of the Academie des sciences

  • Second attack of paralysis & recovery

  • Letter to the editor of Le Temps

    In 1887, the government of New South Wales published an advertisement in nearly every large daily publication in the world, looking desperately for a solution to the rabbit infestation that had taken over the country
    Pasteur suggested careful introduction of a variant of chicken cholera be introduced to the animal.
  • Successful testing of Pasteur's chicken cholera on rabbits

    Pasteur had the opportunity to test his idea of using the chicken cholera virus on rabbits when he was contacted by a wealthy widdow, Madame Pommery, who's grounds were being overrun by the rodents. The government of Sydney heard about the successful test, and asks Pasteur to send them strains of the microbe along with instructions on how to use them.
  • Loir is sent to Australia to oversee the rabbit erradication

    Pasteur, unwilling to send the microbes unattended, sent his assistant, Adrian Loir, to oversee the rabbit erradication project.
  • The Inauguration of the Institut Pasteur

  • Founding of the Saigon branch of the Institut Pasteur

    In January of 1891, Albert Calmette, bacteriologist & immuneologist, becomes the director of the Institut Pasteur in Saigon.
  • Creation of an Institut Pasteur in Tunis

    In 1893, Adrien Loir, Pasteur's nephew, oversaw the operation of a branch in Tunis, Tunisia.
  • Pasteur suffers another stroke

  • Death

    Louis Pasteur passed on the evening of September 28, 1895, after paralysis caused by a cerebral hemorrhage worsened.