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Jacques Monod
Born February 9, 1910(1910-02-09)
Paris, France
Died May 31, 1976 (aged 66)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Fields Biology
Known for Lac operon
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1965)

See also Jacques-Louis Monod, French-born composer and cousin of Jacques Monod.

Jacques Lucien Monod (February 9, 1910 – May 31, 1976) was a French biologist who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965. Born in Paris, he was also awarded several other honours and distinctions, among them the Légion d'honneur. Monod (along with François Jacob) is famous for his work on the Lac operon. Study of the control of expression of genes in the Lac operon provided the first example of a transcriptional regulation system. He also suggested the existence of mRNA molecules that link the information encoded in DNA and proteins.

Monod also made important contributions to the field of enzymology with his proposed theory of allostery in 1965 with Jeffries Wyman (1901-1995) and Jean-Pierre Changeux.[1]. His doctoral work explored the growth of bacteria on mixtures of sugars and documented the sequential utilization of two or more sugars. He coined the term diauxie to denote the frequent observations of two distinct growth phases of bacteria grown on two sugars.

The experimental system used by Jacob and Monod was a common bacterium, E. coli, but the basic regulatory concept (described in the Lac operon article) that was discovered by Jacob and Monod is fundamental to cellular regulation for all organisms. The key idea is that E. coli does not bother to waste energy making such enzymes if there is no need to metabolize lactose, such as when other sugars like glucose are available. The type of regulation is called negative gene regulation, as the operon is inactivated by a protein complex that is removed in the presence of lactose (regulatory induction).

He was also a proponent of the view that life on earth arose by freak chemical accident and was unlikely to be duplicated even in the vast universe. "Man at last knows he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance," he wrote in 1971. He used this bleak assessment as a springboard to argue for atheism and the absurdity and pointlessness of existence. Monod believed we are merely chemical extras in a majestic but impersonal cosmic drama—an irrelevant, unintended sideshow.

Monod was not only a biologist but also a fine musician and esteemed writer on the philosophy of science. He was a political activist and chief of staff of operations for the Forces Françaises de l'Interieur during World War II. In preparation for the Allied landings, he arranged parachute drops of weapons, railroad bombings, and mail interceptions.

Jacques Monod died in 1976 and was buried in the Cimetière du Grand Jas in Cannes on the French Riviera.

Contents

Bibliography

  • The Statue Within: an autobiography by Francois Jacob, Basic Books, 1988. ISBN 0-465-08223-8 Translated from the French. 1995 paperback: ISBN 0-87969-476-9
  • Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology by Jacques Monod, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, ISBN 0-394-46615-2
  • Of Microbes and Life, Jacques Monod, Ernest Bornek, June 1971, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-03431-8
  • The Eighth Day of Creation: makers of the revolution in biology by Horace Freeland Judson, Simon and Schuster, 1979. ISBN 0-671-22540-5. Expanded Edition Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory Press, 1996. ISBN 0-87969-478-5. Widely-praised history of molecular biology recounted through the lives and work of the major figures, including Monod.
  • Origins of Molecular Biology: a Tribute to Jacques Monod edited by Agnes Ullmann, Washington, ASM Press, 2003, ISBN 1-55581-281-3. Jacques Monod seen by persons who interacted with him as a scientist.

Quotations

  • "The first scientific postulate is the objectivity of nature: nature does not have any intention or goal"
  • "A scientist who believes in god suffers from schizophrenia"
  • "What is true for E. coli is true for an elephant"[2]

References

  1. ^ J. Monod, J. Wyman, J.P. Changeux. (1965). On The nature of allosteric transitions:A plausible model. J. Mol. Biol., May;12:88-118.
  2. ^ Titia de Lange (2009) 'How Telomeres Solve the End-Protection Problem', Science, 13 November 2009

External links

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