Article ID: CBB001320175

Monod before Monod: Enzymatic Adaptation, Lwoff, and the Legacy of General Biology (2013)

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For most of his scientific career, Jacques Monod appeared to be a man of a single problem: the formation of enzymes and the regulation of their properties. His ability to produce theoretical models led him to play a major role in both the discovery of the operon regulation and the model of allosteric transitions. The successes of Monod, from the 1950s to the Noble Prize (1965), are already well documented. In this paper, I will focus on the Monod before Monod, that is, the Monod who, during the 1940s, tried to explain the fundamental phenomenon of enzymatic adaptation. To begin with, however, I will survey how this phenomenon was discovered and explained by French Pasteurians at the very beginning of the twentieth century. This first explanation took place amidst an entrenched Lamarckian atmosphere in French thought, which was still alive during the 1920s and the 1930s, when Monod commenced the study of biology at the Sorbonne. Because of his will to construct a scientific biology free from teleology, Monod always tried to break from the legacy of this traditional background of Lamarckism, and he consequently developed ways of thinking that, in the main, were not part of the French biological tradition. Nevertheless, one point did link Monod to French history: his fruitful interactions with André Lwoff. As we shall see, these interactions were necessary for the development of Monod's science, both technically and intellectually speaking.

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Description Focuses on Jacques Monod's work on enzymatic adaptation before 1950.


Citation URI
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Authors & Contributors
Méthot, Pierre-Olivier
Santesmases, María Jesús
Loison, Laurent
Ronan Le Roux
Daniel Demellier
Holmes, Allyson M.
Journals
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Physics in Perspective
HOPOS
Publishers
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Concepts
Molecular biology
Biology
Enzymes
Evolution
Chance
Explanation; hypotheses; theories
People
Monod, Jacques
Jacob, François
Lwoff, André
Jordan, Pascual
Delbrück, Max
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century, early
20th century
19th century
21st century
Places
United States
France
Spain
Paris (France)
Institutions
Institut Pasteur, Paris
Collège de France, Paris
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