François Gros

From Penicillin to genomics Publication date : January 27, 2016

François Gros is a biologist, an honorary professor at the Collège de France and an honorary secretary in perpetuity of the French Academy of Sciences. He is the author of numerous works, including the highly successful Le Secret du gène, L’Ingénierie du vivant, Mémoires scientifiques and Les Mondes nouveaux de la biologie.

The life of a scientist, one of the discoverers of how genes function, and an explorer of the future of biology

When François Gros presented his research project on messenger RNA to Jacques Monod, the director of the Institut Pasteur, the response was lukewarm. Yet Gros’s work is now viewed as a major discovery in the history of biology and a foremost contribution to our understanding of how genes function.
In this book, the author pursues the reflections begun in the earlier Mémoires scientifiques. He reviews the sometimes hesitant trial-and-error searches that would lead to major findings in molecular biology and genetics. This is the portrait of a most unusual scientist: Gros describes himself as an explorer of the unknown territories of living organisms. He opened the door to such radically new disciplines as biomimetic chemistry, in which artificial molecules ‘mimic’ enzyme properties in order to understand their development, and to synthetic biology, in which artificial genomes replace natural ones.
He writes about the people who marked him (Jacques Monod, François Jacob, François Mitterrand) and about the institutions (the Institut Pasteur, the French Academy of Sciences, the Collège de France) that supported and fostered his research.

• An exceptional scientist whose research (primarily on messenger RNA) marked the history of biology and genetics.

• The portrayal of a scientist but also of how discoveries and major breakthroughs are made in science.

• An explanation of the revolutions that shook twentieth-century biology with the invention of new disciplines that helped us understand, and may soon allow us to overcome, many serious diseases.