Connecting bacteria and disease
Pasteurization was originally developed to prevent spoilage in the French wine industry. Through a series of strictly controlled experiments Pasteur discovered that bacteria was responsible for contaminating wine; and while boiling the wine killed the bacteria…it also killed the flavor.
Pasteur solved the problem by heating the wine just enough to kill the microbes – but crucially without compromising the taste; a process that soon proved equally effective for milk and other foodstuffs.
From his work with bacteria Pasteur became an early pioneer of industrial fermentation (a subject close to DSM’s heart); invented the first anthrax vaccines; discovered molecular asymmetry - the ability of organic substances to rotate the plane of polarized light; and also discovered stereoisomers.
Like all great scientists, Pasteur faced adversity. Despite saving many millions of lives, Pasteur was unable to save those of his own children – three of whom succumbed to typhoid fever before reaching adulthood.
Not even a life-threatening stroke and paralysis suffered in 1868 while still in his forties could stop Pasteur.
Some 17 years later, a nine year-old boy called Joseph Meister became the first of millions of people to benefit from the Frenchman’s other great achievement – the rabies vaccine.
If bright science were to be measured purely on its ability to save lives, Pasteur’s star must surely shine the brightest.