Andre Michael Lwoff was born on May 8, 1902, in Ainay-le-Château (Allier), France. In 1921, Lwoff joined the Institute Pasteur after graduating with a degree in science from the University of Paris. Lwoff obtained his M.D. in 1927 and his Ph.D. in 1932.
After completing his Ph.D., Lwoff spent a year studying in Heidelberg in the laboratory of Otto Meyerhof (Nobel Prize recipient in 1922). In 1938, he was appointed Head of the Department at the Institute Pasteur, where he remained until the late 1950s. In 1959, Lwoff accepted the position of Professor of Microbiology at the Sorbonne in Paris. After retiring from the Pasteur Institute in 1968, he became the director of the Cancer Research Institute until 1972.
During World War II he was awarded the Medal of the Resistance for his work in the French underground.
He won a Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1965, along with Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod, for work on the genetic regulation and the synthesis with enzymes and virus. Together they discovered the mechanism, lysogeny, that some viruses use to infect bacteria. After a bacterium is infected by a virus, the virus is transmitted genetically to future bacteria by a process called prophage which is harmless to the host cell. It can be induced by external factors, such as ultraviolet light, to become virulent, causing destruction of the host cell and liberation of infectious virus particles. This discovery led to entirely new ideas as to the evolution and biological role of viruses.
Besides winning the Nobel Prize, Lwoff is a member of many elite academic societies. He is a Honorary Member of the Harvey Society (1954), of the New York Academy of Sciences (1955), Royal Society of London (1958), and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1958).
Among his books are Problems of Morphogenesis in Ciliates (1950) and Biological Order (1962). He was also editor of Biochemistry and Physiology of Protozoa (3 vols., 1951–64).
LAlternate Spellingswoff died in Paris, France on September 30, 1994.
Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.