viernes, 26 de abril de 2013
François Jacob (1920-2013)
Hoy me he enterado de la muerte del científico François Jacob. El premio Nobel francés murió el pasado día 19 de abril pero ha sido hoy cuando he visto el obituario en La Vanguardia. Para rendirle un pequeño homenaje voy a copiar un trabajo que hice hace casi 20 años resumiendo los acontecimientos más importantes de su vida. Descanse en paz, historia viva de la ciencia.
One of the most important scientist in the last century is François Jacob. He is still alive. He was born in France in June, the 17th, 1920. He has no brothers nor sisters. He's jewish and so he soon learnt about the meaning of violence. His mother was a nurse during the First World War. She played an important role in the life of Jacob. His father worked in a little family real state business. Jacob grew up in France in the twenties and thirties. As a child, he studied at the little Carnot School until he started high school where he spent ten years. In his autobiography, he remembers a lot of events happened in 1936: the German Army came in Renania, the Popular Front reached power, the Spanish Civil War began. Jacob passed the final exam of high school and he began studying medicine in 1939. He wanted to become a surgeon. But in that year, the world shifted, peace was over. Jacob's mother fell ill and the doctors found out cancer. At last, she died at the begining of June of 1940. Then, the 21th François Jacob and his friend Roger went to the dock of Bayone in order to embark. They arrived in England and they enrolled in the Free French Forces in order to fight against the German Army. Jacob wanted to become a gunner but due to the lack of physisicans, every medicine student was assigned to Health Service. Jacob arrived in the African desert and he helped his company against the German African Korps. He survived all attacks and on August, 1st, 1944, he returned to France. However, when he came back to Paris, two German planes bombed his company. He was badly wounded. In that time, he succeded in his two final exams of the second course of medicine. In spite of this, he couldn't continue studying medicine due to an irreversible series of lesions. He tried to get a job working in a tyrothricin laboratory in order to graduate.
He wanted to be a doctor to open a surgery office. He married Lise. Then, he decided to become a biologist. He tried to get a job for a time but he couldn't find any employment. In 1950 he interviewed with André Lwoff for three times and finally Lwoff said: "you know, we have just found the prophage induction". He continued: "do you want to work with the phage?" Then Jacob replied: "yes, this is the only thing I wished". In September of that year he began working under Lwoff's orders in the Pasteur institute. He soon realized that he should have learnt english. As he was a beginner in biology, he had to study two subjects , genetics and biochemistry. Jacques Monod was studying a concrete enzime in a bacterium, a protein called beta-galactosidase. This bacterium only produced the beta-galactosidase enzime when there was lactose in the Petri plaque. François Jacob had four children. As it was a genetics problem, one of them was black haired, two others were brown haired and the last was blonde. François Jacob and Jacques Monod discovered genetics control of synthesis of the enzimes and viruses. They studied specifically the genetics expression blocking in the beta-galactosidase gen of bacterium. In this epoch the DNA -and not the proteins- was already known to be the genetical hereditary material. Also, after the Francis Crick and James Watson experiments, the DNA double helix structure was found out. In 1960 François Jacob was appointed chief of the Celular Genetics Service. The famous article about genes activity in the bacterian cell belongs to this year. In those days, François Jacob had published approximately more than one hundred and twenty scientifical issues. October, 1965 he was awarded (together with Jacques Monod and André Lwoff) the Nobel Prize for Physiology. François Jacob is the author of therre books. His last work, published in 1987 is an autobiography called 'The inner statue' ("La statue interieure"). The book was published in Spain by Tusquest Editores. Nowadays, he is a teacher of Genetics in the "College de France" and director of research in the Pasteur Institute of Paris. Jacob has been many times awarded with the Doctor Honoris Causa title; for example, he received this honour in Barcelona University in March, 10th, 1982.
This original work was written in 1995.