François Jacob

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Nancy, France
Birth Sign
Nancy, France

François Jacob was a French scientist who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Jacques Monod and Andre Lwoff for their findings concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus manufacturing. Jacob made major contributions to the study of genetics by successfully collaborating with other notable scientists, such as Monod and Lwoff, while working at France’s prestigious Pasteur Institute. Recognizing the regulator genes that regulate the activity of the structural genes was his most astounding discovery. The Jacob-Monod operon model, which aids in clarifying how genes are regulated, is also attributed to him. They clarified the consequences of balance and imbalance between regulator and structural genes in normal cells. In addition, they analyzed messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which transmits genetic information from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) – the carrier of genetic instructions – to the ribosome – the cell’s protein synthesizer. He demonstrated that bacteria adhere to the same principles about natural preference and evolution as larger creatures. In 1962, he received the ‘Grand Prix Charles-Leopold Mayer’ from the ‘Académie des Sciences. He was elected a “Foreign Member of the Royal Society” (‘ForMemRS’) in 1973.

Childhood & Adolescence

He was born on June 17, 1920, in Nancy, France, to Thérèse (Franck) Jacob and Simon Jacob, who were childless at the time. His father was a “religious conformist,” although his mother and other close relatives were secular Jews.
He attended the public secondary and higher education school, Lycée Carnot, in Paris for ten years, beginning when he was seven years old.

As a child, he admired his maternal grandfather, the four-star commander Albert Franck. Jacob eventually became an atheist following his bar mitzvah.
After completing his formal schooling, he studied medicine at the Faculty of Paris with the intent of becoming a surgeon.

However, his studies were halted in 1940 by the German invasion of France during the ‘Second World War’
In June 1940, while in his second year of college, he fled to England by boat and joined the “Free French Forces” in London. Jacob was reassigned to Africa, where he served as a medical officer and witnessed a number of actions in Libya, Tunisia, Tripolitania, and Fezzan.

In 1944, while stationed in Normandy with the French ‘2nd Armoured Division,’ he was injured in a German air raid and was forced to return to Paris on August 1st of that year. He was hospitalized for seven months.

During the ‘Second World War,’ he was awarded the French Order ‘Cross of Liberation,’ which was bestowed upon the valiant hearts of the ‘Liberation of France’ In addition, he was awarded the highest French honor, the Légion d’honneur, and the French military decoration, the Croix de Guerre.

After the war, he continued his medical education in Paris and began researching tyrothricin and bacteriology. In 1947, he received his M.D. after presenting a dissertation on the efficacy of antibiotics in battling local infections. However, his military injuries prevented him from pursuing a career as a surgeon.

Francois Jacob’s Career

In 1950, he began working as a research assistant at France’s famed ‘Pasteur Institute’ under microbiologist Dr. André Lwoff. The next year, he earned a degree in science.
His research focused on the genetic mechanics of bacteriophages and bacteria, as well as the metabolic consequences of mutations. He analyzed the properties of lysogenic bacteria and demonstrated their resistance.

In 1954, he got a doctorate in science from the ‘University of Paris’ (Sorbonne) with a dissertation entitled ‘Lysogenic bacteria and the provirus idea.’ In the same year, he began working with French microbial geneticist Elie Wollman to examine the relationship between bacterial genetic material and prophage.

The investigation defined the mechanisms of bacterial unification and aided the study of the genetic apparatus of the bacterial cell. The research resulted in a variety of novel ideas, including the method of genetic transfer from male to female and the concept of episomes. In 1961, he released the book Sexuality and the Genetics of Bacteria, in which he provided a synopsis of this research.

In 1956, he was appointed Laboratory Director at the ‘Pasteur Institute,’ and a few years later, in 1960, he was appointed Head of the Department of Cell Genetics, a newly constituted position.

In 1961, Jacob and Jacques Monod studied the mechanisms responsible for the transfer of genetic information and the regulatory pathways present in bacterial cells that regulate the activity and synthesis of macromolecules. The pair proposed several novel ideas, including allosteric proteins, regulator genes, and messenger RNA.

Jacob and Monod’s work on the E.coli Lac operon, which encodes the protein essential for the transport and breakdown of the sugar lactose, earned them widespread recognition. The pair presented a model that illustrated how the amounts of certain cell proteins are regulated.

According to their model, protein synthesis is inhibited when a repressor, which is a DNA- or RNA-binding protein encoded by a regulatory gene, binds to the operator of a DNA segment.

Jacob and Monod’s studies indicate that the balance between regulator genes and structural genes in a normal cell allows it to adapt to different environmental situations, but an imbalance can result in the development of new enzymes that are either beneficial or detrimental to the cell.

In 1962, he joined the Danish Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences as a foreign member.
In 1963, together with South African researcher Sydney Brenner, he developed the replicon concept to describe certain aspects of bacterial cell division. Since then, he has devoted himself to the research of the genetics underlying the mechanics of cell division.

In 1964, he was appointed a professor at the prominent French institution of higher education and research, Collège de France. There, a chair in cell Genetics was established for Jacob. In the same year, he also joined the ‘American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a foreign member.

In 1969, he joined the American Philosophical Society and the US National Academy of Sciences as a foreign member.

Beginning in 1970, he researched cultured mammalian cells, particularly aspects of the genetic features of cells. 1970 saw the publication of his book ‘La logique du vivant, Une Histoire de l’Hérédité’ (‘The Logic of Life: A History of Heredity’), which outlined the processes and phases of the study of living organisms from the sixteenth century onward, so paving the way for the field of molecular biology.
Numerous universities awarded honorary degrees upon him.

Awards and Accomplishments

Together with Jacques Monod and Andre Lwoff, he was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Personal History and Legacies

In 1947, he married musician Lise Bloch. They were granted three sons and a daughter. Their four children were Pierre, Odile, Laurent, and Henri, all born between 1949 and 1952. (born in 1954). Lise, his wife, died in 1983.

In 1999, Jacob married Geneviève Barrier for the second time.
On April 19, 2013, at the age of 92, he passed away in Paris, France. He was survived by his second wife Geneviève and four children from his previous marriage.

Estimated Net worth

Francis Jacob is one of the wealthiest and most well-known organists. According to our research, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Francis Jacob has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.