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Louis Pasteur

Louis PasteurLouis PasteurLouis Pasteur (1822–1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist, best known for his work on studying disease-carrying microbes (micro-organisms). These are the tiny, single-celled creatures, such as bacteria, that we sometimes call germs. He discovered that microbes were responsible for turning wine, beer and milk sour, and that they could also spread diseases. Before Pasteur's research, it was believed that these organisms could appear suddenly out of nowhere, but he proved that they already exist in the air. Pasteur’s work led to a change in medical procedures, in which hospitals and operating theatres were kept as clean as possible, so saving millions of lives.

Louis Pasteur in his laboratoryLouis Pasteur in his laboratory


Pasteur was born in the Jura region of France. His family were not particularly wealthy—his father was a tanner—and at school there was little to show that he was to become one of the most influential scientists of all time. 

Pasteur obtained a master of science degree from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1845, and married Marie Laurent, the daughter of the rector of the university. They had five children, but only two lived to be adults.

In 1865, Pasteur used his understanding of germs to rescue the French silk industry by identifying a disease that was killing silkworms.

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