Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran

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Laveran, Charles Louis Alphonse (18 June 1845- 18 May 1922]


Laveran, a French physician who discovered that the cause of malaria is a prozoan, was the son and grandson of medical men. As described in 1907 in his autobiographical sketch when receiving the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, after completing his education in Paris at the Collège Saint Baube and later at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, he

  • wished to follow his father's profession and in 1863 he applied to the Public Health School at Strasbourg, was admitted there and attended the courses for four years. In 1866 he was appointed as a resident medical student in the Strasbourg civil hospitals. In 1867 he submitted a thesis on the regeneration of nerves. In 1870, when the Franco-German war broke out, he was a medical assistant-major and was sent to the army at Metz as ambulance officer. He took part in the battles of Gravelotte and Saint-Privat and in the siege of Metz. After the capitulation of Metz, he went back to France and was attached first to Lille hospital and then to the St. Martin Hospital in Paris. In 1874 he was appointed, after competitive examination, to the Chair of Military Diseases and Epidemics at the École de Val-de-Grâce, previously occupied by his father. In 1878, when his period of office had ended, he was sent to Bône in Algeria and remained there until 1883. It was during this period that he carried out his chief researches on the human malarial parasites, first at Bône and later at Constantine.

He became a professor at the Pasteur Institute. While an army surgeon in Algiers he discovered (1880) the parasite that causes malaria. Asked by a French journal to comment about a report that Edison had adopted spiritualism, Laveran responded that he did not believe it. As a scientific man, Laveran added, he “did not believe in spirits.”

He wrote

Trypanosomes and trypanosomiases (1907, research, co-authors Félix Mesnil and David Nabarro)
Tropical medicine and hygiene (1913, textbook, co-author Charles Nicolle)

In 1885 he married Mlle. Sophie Marie Pidancet, and they had no children. His death was caused by an illness lasting several months. He is buried at the Cimetière du Montparnasse (Montparnasse cemetery), Paris, France.

{CE; JM; RAT; RE