Scientific research at the Laboratoire Arago (Banyuls, France) in the twentieth Century: Edouard Chatton, the "master", and André Lwoff, the "pupil"


  • Marie-Odile Soyer-Gobillard Observatoire Océnologique de Banyuls, Laboratoire Arago, CNRS, UMR 76-28 “Modèles en Biologie Cellulaire et Évolutive”, Université Paris 6, Banyuls-sur-mer, France


history of science, protozoology, Laboratoire Arago, Edouard Chatton, André Lwoff


Edouard Chatton (1883–1947) began his scientific career in the Pasteur Institute, where he made several important discoveries regarding pathogenic protists (trypanosomids, Plasmodium, toxoplasms, Leishmania). In 1908 he married a “Banyulencque”, Marie Herre; from 1920, he focused his research on marine protists. He finished his career as Professor at the Sorbonne (Paris) and director of the Laboratoire Arago in Banyuls-sur-mer, where he died in 1947. André Lwoff (1902–1994) lived several scientific lives in addition to his artistic and family life. But it is the study of protists that filled his first life after he encountered the exceptional Master who was Chatton. Lwoff’s father was a psychiatrist and his mother an artist sculptor. He became a Doctor of Medicine in 1927 and then a Doctor of Sciences in 1932, his thesis dealing with biochemical aspects of protozoa nutrition. He met Chatton in 1921 and —until Chatton’s death— their meetings, first in Roscoff and then in Banyuls-sur-mer, were numerous and their collaboration very close. Their monograph on apostome ciliates was one of the peaks of this collaboration. In 1938, Lwoff was made director of the Microbial Physiology Department at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he began a new life devoted to bacteria, and then to viruses, before pursuing his career as director of the Cancer Research Institute in Villejuif (France). Lwoff was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965. He died in Banyuls in 1994. “Master” and “pupil”had in common perseverance in their scientific work, conception and observation, a critical sense and rigor but also a great artistic sensibility that painting and drawing in the exceptional surroundings of Banyuls-sur-mer had fulfilled.