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Jacques Monod (en)

Date of birth : 1910-02-09
Date of death : 1976-05-31
Birthplace : Paris,France
Nationality : French
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-19

Jacques Lucien Monod was a French biologist who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965, sharing it with François Jacob and Andre Lwoff "for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis".
He and François Jacob showed that the living cell controls its manufacture of proteins through a feedback mechanism analogous to a thermostat.

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 is widely regarded as one of the founders of molecular biology.

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."

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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