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Louis Pasteur

Pasteur, Louis (păstŭrˈ, Fr. lwē pästörˈ) [key], 1822–95, French chemist. He taught at Dijon, Strasbourg, and Lille, and in Paris at the École normale supérieure and the Sorbonne (1867–89). His early research consisted of chemical studies of the tartrates, in which he discovered (1848) molecular dissymmetry. He then began work on fermentation, which had important results. His experiments with bacteria conclusively disproved (1862) the theory of spontaneous generation and led to the germ theory of infection. His work on wine, vinegar, and beer resulted in the development of the process of pasteurization. Of great economic value also was his solution for the control of silkworm disease, his study of chicken cholera, and his technique of vaccination against anthrax, which was successfully administered against rabies in 1885. In 1888 the Pasteur Institute was founded in Paris, with Pasteur as its director, to continue work on rabies and to provide a teaching and research center on virulent and contagious diseases.

See biographies by his son-in-law, René Vallery-Radot (1920, repr. 1960); R. J. Dubos, Louis Pasteur: Free Lance of Science (1986) and Pasteur and Modern Science (rev. ed. 1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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