Jacques Lucien Monod a French biologist who received the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with François Jacob “for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis”. They shared the award with Andre Lwoff.
In 1938 he married the archeologist Odette Bruhl and, in 1939, became the father of twin boys. He received his Ph.D. in 1940 and joined the French Resistance, where he was eventually raised to the chief of staff of operations for the French Forces of the Interior. In world war II, he is in preparation for the Allied landings, he arranged parachute drops of weapons, railroad bombings, and mail interceptions. Monod studied the bacteria during the war and showed that the bacteria make an inhibitor to keep beta-galactosidase production turned off.
Monod and Jacob are famous for their work on the E. coli lac operon, which encodes proteins necessary for the transport and breakdown of the sugar lactose (lac). It is the first example of transcriptional regulatory system. Monod’s interest in the lac operon originated from his doctoral dissertation. He studied the growth rate of bacteria in continuous culture systems containing various sugars. Monod also deduced phenomenon “diauxy,” or double growth. He proposed that the variation in growth rate is a result of the variation in the enzyme constitution of the bacteria caused by the presence of the different substrata. He proposed that the chemostat theory is a powerful system to investigate bacterial physiology.
In 1961 Jacob and Monod suggested the existence of a messenger ribonucleic acid(mRNA), a substance whose base sequence is complementary to that of DNA in the cell. They postulated that the mRNA carries the “information” that link the information encoded in DNA and proteins. Monod is widely regarded as one of the founders of molecular biology.
In 1965, Monad with Jeffries Wyman and Jean-Pierre Changeux made important contributions to the field of enzymology, proposed theory of allostery. He called the concept – in which an enzyme’s active site changes shape when it binds an effector molecule – the second secret of life.
Monod joined the staff of the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1945 and became its director in 1971. Monod interpreted the findings of molecular biology in his book, Chance and Necessity, and argued that the origin of life and the process of evolution are the result of chance. Monod was also awarded with several honours and distinctions.
Monod died of leukemia in 1976.