Biology defines the life in and around us. Not only has the subject helped us understand ourselves better but the knowledge of reproduction, physiology, adaptation, disease and other aspects of the body has saved several lives, thereby promoting the cause of mankind.
Here we talk about famous foreign biologists who have left their footprints in this field.
Known as the great Greek philosopher, scientist and the teacher of Alexander, Aristotle is often called the father of biology. Born in 384 BC, he set up a framework of knowledge which served as the foundation for past and present science and philosophy. Since Alexander was his pupil, Aristotle was able to define plant and animal species from all parts of his vast empire. He wrote around 400 treatises including the ones written on motion of animals, gait of animals, parts of animals and generation of animals. Though these books had a tinge of error and myth, they were a good starting point for further research in the field of biology. One of Aristotle’s students Theophrastus compiled the most important works on botany written in that era.
Born in early 19th century England, Charles Darwin is one of the most famous foreign biologists instrumental in progress of mankind with some of his time-tested theories on evolution and natural selection.He first served in 1831 as an unpaid naturalist in the Beagle, a ship that travelled around the world for five years. The trip helped Darwin observed the biological and geological environments of different parts of the world. During his stay at the Galápagos Islands, he got convinced about the theory of evolution of the species. Later, he went on to propose that natural selection is the engine of evolution. To support his theory, Darwin did several tests and found a supporter in Alfred Russell Wallace, a young naturalist who was also working on same ideas. In 1859 Darwin published ‘The Origin of Species’, which has been instrumental in changing the world.[ad#co-1]
Pasteur has done a great service to humanity with his work in the field of medical science. Born in 1822, he was the one who gave us the germ theory and explained how infectious diseases affect us. He proposed changes in hospital practices and the improved sanitation standards helped save billions of lives. Pasteur also discovered the fact that fermentations are made by microbes which is why the term ‘pasteurisation’ came into being as an indication to killing of dangerous microbes in certain food items. He also developed vaccines against anthrax and rabies. When he died in 1895, Pasteur was given the state burial as a national hero.
If Pasteur taught us about infections, Alexander Fleming introduced as to the world of antibiotics. Born in 1881, he was known for the discovery of penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic which helped saved millions of lives. Fleming observed the growth of Staphylococcus bacteria which was inhibited by a Penicillium mold that had accidentally contaminated the culture plate thus giving an idea that it can be used to help deal with bacterial infection in humans. At the end of World War II, a lot of hurt soldiers of the allied troops saved their lives thanks to penicillin. Fleming also discovered lysozyme, an antibacterial enzyme present in mucous secretions.
In 1945, he won the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine along with Chain and Florey who had carried further research related to efficacy of Penicillin.
American biochemist and author Erwin Chargaff also worked in the same field and discovered the key facts necessary to determine the basic chemical structure of DNA. Chargaff’s findings, along with those of Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, strongly suggested that base-pairing existed within DNA.
Born in Italy in 1909, Rita Levi-Montalcini was the one to discover nerve-growth factor (NGF), a protein instrumental in survival and growth of brain neurons. The discovery has helped in development of several medications to treat brain disorders.
Swiss microbiologist and geneticist, Werner Arber was instrumental in discovery of restriction endonucleases, which led to the development of recombinant DNA technology.
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