Biography of Jacques Monod

"Man knows at last that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe from which he emerged by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below – it is for him to choose"
Jacques Monod - Chance and Necessity


Jacques Monod was born in Paris on February 9th, 1910, but he spent his early years in the South of France. He returned to Paris in 1928 to begin his higher education and entered the university there to study for a degree in Natural Sciences.

In 1934, he became research assistant in the laboratory of zoology at the Faculty of Sciences and in the same year he participated in a scientific expedition to Greenland with Paul Emile Victor. Two years later he received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to study genetics at the California Institute of Technology. He obtained his doctorate in Natural Sciences in 1941.

He was an active participant in the French resistance during World War II and after the liberation of France, he joined the Institut Pasteur as Laboratory Director in André Lwoff's Department where he contributed to the emergence of the new science of molecular biology. He was made Director of the Department of Cellular Biochemistry in 1954, and later, in 1959, was appointed Professor of Metabolic Chemistry at the Sorbonne.

He shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with André Lwoff and François Jacob for «discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of enzyme and virus synthesis». nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1965/monod-lecture.html
Also with François Jacob, Jacques Monod conceived and demonstrated the reality of messenger RNA.

In 1967 he became Professor at the Collège de France and in 1971 he was appointed Director of the Institut Pasteur.

Jacques Monod died on May 31st, 1976.

His publications include a philosophical essay « Chance and Necessity» (originally published in 1970 under the title « Le Hasard et la necessité ») in which he expressed his view that the origin of life and the process of evolution are the result of chance.

More information on Jacques Monod :
www.pasteur.fr/infosci/archives/mon0.html

Last modified 4 November 2015

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