Maxime Schwartz / Honorary General Director of Institut Pasteur

Last updated on profile page : January 27th, 2014


Maxime Schwartz was born in Blois (France) on June 1, 1940. After studying at Ecole Polytechnique, one of ParisTech elite graduate schools (1959-1961) and Paris University, he completed his Ph.D. thesis in 1967, which he had prepared in the laboratory of Jacques Monod at Institut Pasteur. He then spent two years doing post-doctoral work in the laboratory of James D. Watson at Harvard University.

He came back to Institut Pasteur where he remained for most of his scientific career. He has been employed both by the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Institut Pasteur. In 1986, he became a full-time professor at both institutions.

Most of his scientific work dealt with the molecular biology of bacteria. From 1975 to 1987, he directed the Molecular Genetics Unit at Institut Pasteur. He then served as the institute’s scientific director from 1985 to 1987, before becoming general director in January 1988—a position that he held for 12 years, until December 1999.

During the years that followed (2001-2006) he was the scientific director of the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA). Here, he also chaired an expert committee in charge of giving advice to the government on the licensing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In 2001, he published “How the Cows Turned Mad,” which was translated into English, Japanese, and Russian. In 2008, he co-authored with François Rodhain, “Microbes or Men, Who Will Win?” In 2009, he published, together with Jean Castex, a book on the dispute between France and the US over who first discovered the AIDS virus. In 1999, he also published with Annick Perrot “Pasteur, From Microbes to Vaccines.”

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Adviced by Maxime Schwartz on the web

By Maxime Schwartz on Paris Innovation Review

Les changements dans nos modes de vie ont provoqué une dissémination plus rapide de maladies infectieuses qui parfois préexistaient, mais les progrès scientifiques et la coopération ainsi qu'une solide coordination internationale de longue durée ont permis jusqu'ici d'éviter la catastrophe.
Throughout history, changes in human behavior have caused the dissemination of infectious diseases, from smallpox to the flu. But thanks to scientific progress and plain old international cooperation and coordination, we’ve been able to ward off disaster, or at least the worst of it. However, an additional factor will up the stakes for scientists and policymakers worldwide in the fight against emergence or re-emergence: the remarkable adaptive capacities of microbes. The question is, microbes or men, who will win?

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