Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1907
Born: 18 June 1845, Paris, France
Died: 18 May 1922, Paris, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
Prize motivation: “in recognition of his work on the role played by protozoa in causing diseases”
Prize share: 1/1
Alphonse Laveran was born in Paris, the son of a doctor. After having trained and worked as a military doctor during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), he worked at the École de Val-de-Grâce in Paris. Malaria was a major problem in the colonies for the military. Laveran traveled to Algeria and to Rome to track the disease’s transmission. He used half of his Nobel Prize money to establish the research institute Société de Pathologie Exotique and donated the other half to the Institut Pasteur, where he had previously worked.
In the tropics malaria is a common disease that causes high fever and other symptoms. By the middle of the 19th century, it was clear that many diseases are caused by microorganisms, and a great many people suspected that malaria was caused by a bacterium. After examining blood from people infected with malaria, Alphonse Laveran in 1889 was able to definitively show that malaria is caused by another type of single-celled organism, a protozoan of the Plasmodium family, which attacks red blood cells. Laveran also identified other single-celled parasites that cause other diseases.