François Jacob (fräNswä´ zhäkôb´), 1920–2013, French biologist and geneticist, educated at the Sorbonne. His medical studies were interrupted by World War II. He joined the Free French Forces and fought in Africa and during the liberation of Paris. In 1950 he joined the Pasteur Institute, becoming laboratory director in 1956 and head of the cell genetics department in 1960. In 1964 he became professor of cell genetics at the Collège de France. By studying the genetic basis of lysogeny (see bacteriophage), he and Elie Wollman discovered (1961) a new class of genetic elements, the episomes. Studies of the regulation of bacterial enzyme synthesis led Jacob and Jacques Monod to propose a mechanism for the regulation of the expression of genes(1961) and the concepts of messenger RNA (see nucleic acid) and the operon. He and Monod shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with André Lwoff for their work in genetics. Jacob also did work on mechanisms involved in the growth and spread of cancer. His writings include The Logic of Life: A History of Heredity (1970, tr. 1976).
See his autobiography (1987, tr. 1988 by F. Philip).