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Jacques Monod

Jacques MonodAKA Jacques Lucien Monod

Born: 9-Feb-1910
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: 31-May-1976
Location of death: Cannes, France
Cause of death: Cancer - Leukemia
Remains: Buried, Cimetière du Grand Jas, Cannes, France

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Scientist, Military

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Operon theory of genetic control

As a child, Jacques Monod enjoyed climbing rocks and collecting fossils, but by adolescence he was frustrated that no-one could plausibly explain how life works. Becoming a biochemist, he advanced the scientific answer to that question, proposing the existence of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) to explain how genes regulate cell metabolism by directing the biosynthesis of enzymes. Monod was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing the honor with André Lwoff and François Jacob for "discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of enzyme and virus synthesis."

During World War II Monod was active in the French resistance, rising to chief of operations for the French Forces of the Interior. As the Allied landing approached, he was intricately involved in planning for mail interceptions, railroad bombings, and parachute drops of weapons.

Late in his life, Monod wrote Chance and Necessity, a summary of arguments from several sciences leading to his conclusion that life is entirely accidental, advanced only by Charles Darwin's rules of natural selection. "The ancient covenant is in pieces", Monod wrote. "Man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only 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." As he died of leukemia in 1976, Monod's last words were, "I am trying to understand."

Father: Lucien Monod (portrait artist)
Mother: Charlotte Todd
Wife: Odette Bruhl (archeologist, curator of the Guimet Museum in Paris, m. 1938)
Son: Olivier Monod (twin, geologist)
Son: Philippe Monod (twin, physicist)

    High School: Lycée de Cannes, Cannes, France
    University: BS Natural Sciences, University of Paris (1931)
    Scholar: Evolution, University of Paris (1932-34)
    Teacher: Zoology, University of Paris (1934-42)
    Scholar: Genetics, California Institute of Technology (1936-37)
    University: PhD Natural Sciences, University of Paris (1941)
    Scholar: Cell Biochemistry, Pasteur Institute in Paris (1942-59)
    Professor: Chemistry of Metabolism, Sorbonne (1959-67)
    Professor: Biochemistry, Collège de France (1967-76)
    Administrator: Pasteur Institute in Paris (Director, 1971-76)

    French Legion of Honor 1963
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1965, with François Jacob and André Lwoff
    National Academy of Sciences 1968
    Royal Society 1968
    American Ancestry Maternal
    Scottish Ancestry Paternal

Author of books:
Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (1970)
Of Microbes and Life (1971, with Ernest Borek and André Lwoff)


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