CV of Jacob Francois#

François Jacob was born in June 1920 in Nancy (France). After attending the Lycée Carnot in Paris, he began studying medicine at the Faculty of Paris. His studies were interrupted by the war. In June 1940 he left France and joined the Free French Forces in London. He was sent to Africa as a medical officer. During his wartime activities he was severely wounded first in Africa, then in Normandy in 1944. He remained in the hospital for seven months, and was awarded the Croix de la Libération, the highest French military decoration of this war .

After the war, François Jacob completed his medical studies in 1947. He was unable to practise surgery because of his injuries, and finally turned to biology. He obtained a science degree in 1951, and then a doctorate in science in 1954 at the Sorbonne.

In 1950 he joined the Institut Pasteur. He was appointed Laboratory Director in 1956,and in 1960 Head of the Department of Cell Genetics. He was appointed Professor at the Collège de France in 1966, where a chair of Cell Genetics was created for him.

The work of François Jacob has mainly been concerned with the genetic mechanisms existing in bacteria and bacteriophages, and with the biochemical effects of mutations. In 1954 he began a long and fruitful collaboration with Elie Wollman, in an attempt to establish the nature of the relationships between the prophage and genetic material of the bacterium. This study led to a definition of the mechanism of bacterial conjugation, and also enabled an analysis of the genetic apparatus of the bacterial cell. This reseerch led to a series of new concepts, such as "the oriented process of genetic transfer from the male to the female", the circularity of the bacterial chromosome or the episome concept. Much of this work is summarized in a book Sexuality and the Genetics of Bacteria.

In 1958 the remarkable analogy revealed by genetic analysis of lysogeny and of the induced biosynthesis of ß-galactosidase led François Jacob, with Jacques Monod, to study the mechanisms responsible for the transfer of genetic information and the regulatory pathways which adjust the activity and synthesis of macromolecules. Following this analysis, Jacob and Monod proposed a series of new concepts, those of messenger RNA, regulator genes, operons and allosteric proteins.

In 1963, together with Sydney Brenner, François Jacob put forward the «replicon» hypothesis to account for certain aspects of cell division in bacteria. Since then, he has devoted his attention to the genetic analysis of the mechanisms of cell division. In 1970 he began to study cultured mammalian cells, particularly certain aspects of their genetic properties.

François Jacob has been awarded a number of scientific prizes, the award of the Nobel price certainly being the culmination of all others.

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