Albert Claude

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Albert Claude
Albert Claude 1974.jpg
Albert Claude in 1974
Born(1899-08-24)24 August 1899
Died22 May 1983(1983-05-22) (aged 83)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Citizenship Belgium and United States
Alma mater University of Liège
Known for Cell fractionation
Electron microscopy in biology
Awards Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize in 1970
Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize in 1971
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974
Scientific career
Fields Cell biology
Institutions Rockefeller University
Institut Jules Bordet
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Université catholique de Louvain

Albert Claude (24 August 1899 – 22 May 1983) was a Belgian-American medical doctor and cell biologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with Christian de Duve and George Emil Palade. His elementary education started in a comprehensive primary school at Longlier, his birthplace. He served in the British Intelligence Service during the First World War, and got imprisoned in concentration camps twice. In recognition of his service, he was granted enrolment at the University of Liège in Belgium to study medicine without any formal education required for the course. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1928. Devoted to medical research, he initially joined German institutes in Berlin. In 1929 he found an opportunity to join the Rockefeller Institute in New York. At Rockefeller University he made his most groundbreaking achievements in cell biology. In 1930 he developed the technique of cell fractionation, by which he discovered the agent of the Rous sarcoma, components of cell organelles such as mitochondrion, chloroplast, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, ribosome and lysosome. He was the first to employ the electron microscope in the field of biology. In 1945 he published the first detailed structure of cell. His collective works established the complex functional and structural properties of cells. [1]

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine One of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded yearly for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in his will in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel was interested in experimental physiology and wanted to establish a prize for scientific progress through laboratory discoveries. The Nobel Prize is presented at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death, along with a diploma and a certificate for the monetary award. The front side of the medal displays the same profile of Alfred Nobel depicted on the medals for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature. The reverse side is unique to this medal. The most recent Nobel prize was announced by Karolinska Institute on 1 October 2018, and has been awarded to American James P. Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo – for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.


Claude served as director at Jules Bordet Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment and Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Cancérologie in Louvain-la-Neuve; Professor at Université Libre de Bruxelles (University of Brussels), Université catholique de Louvain, and Rockefeller University. For his pioneering works he received the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize in 1970, together with George Palade and Keith Porter, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize in 1971, and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with his student George Palade and friend Christian de Duve. [2]

Institut Jules Bordet is a specialized general hospital and research institute of the Université Libre de Bruxelles which specializes in oncology. It is located in Brussels, Belgium. The institute is named after Jules Bordet, a Belgian immunologist and microbiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1919 for his discoveries relating to immunity.

The Université catholique de Louvain is Belgium's largest French-speaking university. It is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, which was expressly built to house the university, and Brussels, Charleroi, Mons, Tournai and Namur. Since September 2018, the university has used the branding UCLouvain, replacing the acronym UCL, following a merger with Saint-Louis University, Brussels.

Rockefeller University Research institute in New York City

The Rockefeller University is a center for scientific research, primarily in the biological and medical sciences, that provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. Rockefeller is the oldest biomedical research institute in the United States. The 82-person faculty has 37 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, seven Lasker Award recipients, and five Nobel laureates. As of 2017, a total of 36 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Rockefeller University.

Early life and education

Albert Claude was born in 1899 (but according to civil register 1898) in Longlier, a hamlet in Neufchâteau, Belgium, to Florentin Joseph Claude and Marie-Glaudice Watriquant Claude. He was the youngest among three brothers and one sister. His father was a Paris-trained baker and run a bakery-cum-general store at Longlier valley near railroad station. His mother, who developed breast cancer in 1902, died when he was seven years old. He spent his pre-school life with his ailing mother. He started education in Longlier Primary School, a pluralistic school of single room, mixed grades, and all under one teacher. In spite of the inconveniences, he remarked the education system as "excellent." He served as a bell boy, ringing church bell every morning at 6. Due to economic depression the family moved to Athus, a prosperous region with steel mills, in 1907. He entered German-speaking school. After two years he was asked to look after his uncle who was disabled with cerebral haemorrhage in Longlier. He dropped out of school and practically nursed his uncle for several years. [1] At the outbreak of the First World War he was apprenticed to steel mills and worked as an industrial designer. Inspired by Winston Churchill, then British Minister of War, he joined the resistance and volunteered in British Intelligence Service in which he served during the whole war. At the end of the war he was decorated with the Interallied Medal along with veteran status. [3] He then wanted to continue education. Since he had no formal secondary education, particularly required for medicine course, such as in Greek and Latin, he tried to join School of Mining in Liège. By that time Marcel Florkin became head of the Direction of Higher Education in Belgium's Ministry of Public Instruction, and under his administration passed the law that enabled war veterans to pursue higher education without diploma or other examinations. As an honour to his war service, he was given admission to the University of Liège in 1922 to study medicine. He obtained his degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1928. [4]

Neufchâteau, Luxembourg Province Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Neufchâteau is a Walloon municipality of Belgium located in the province of Luxembourg.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Breast cancer cancer that originates in the mammary gland

Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. Signs of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, a newly inverted nipple, or a red or scaly patch of skin. In those with distant spread of the disease, there may be bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, or yellow skin.


Claude received travel grants from Belgian government for his doctoral thesis on the transplantation of mouse cancers into rats. With this he worked his postdoctoral research in Berlin during the winter of 1928–1929, first at the Institut für Krebsforschung, and then at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology, Dahlem, in the laboratory of tissues culture of Prof. Albert Fischer. Back in Belgium he received fellowship in 1929 from the Belgian American Educational Foundation (Commission for Relief in Belgium, CRB) for research in the United States. He applied for the Rockefeller Institute (now the Rockefeller University) in New York, USA. Simon Flexner, then Director, accepted his proposal to work on the isolation and identification of the Rous sarcoma virus. In September 1929 he joined the Rockefeller Institute. [4] In 1930, he discovered the process of cell fractionation, which was groundbreaking in his time. The process consists of grinding up cells to break the membrane and release the cell's contents. He then filtered out the cell membranes and placed the remaining cell contents in a centrifuge to separate them according to mass. He divided the centrifuged contents into fractions, each of a specific mass, and discovered that particular fractions were responsible for particular cell functions. In 1938 he identified and purified for the first time component of Rous sarcoma virus, the causal agent of carcinoma, as "ribose nucleoprotein" (eventually named RNA). He was the first to use electron microscope to study biological cells. Earlier electron microscopes were used only in physical researches. His first electron microscopic study was on the structure of mitochondria in 1945. [5] [6] [7] [8] He was given American citizenship in 1941. [2] He discovered that mitochondria are the "power houses" of all cells. He also discovered cytoplasmic granules full of RNA and named them "microsomes", which were later renamed ribosomes, the protein synthesizing machineries of cell. With his associate, Keith Porter, he found a "lace-work" structure that was eventually proven to be the major structural feature of the interior of all eukaryotic cells. This was the discovery of endoplasmic reticulum (a Latin for "fishnet"). [3]

Organ transplantation moving of an organ from one body or body region to another

Organ transplantation is a medical procedure in which an organ is removed from one body and placed in the body of a recipient, to replace a damaged or missing organ. The donor and recipient may be at the same location, or organs may be transported from a donor site to another location. Organs and/or tissues that are transplanted within the same person's body are called autografts. Transplants that are recently performed between two subjects of the same species are called allografts. Allografts can either be from a living or cadaveric source.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Dahlem (Berlin) Quarter of Berlin in Germany

Dahlem is a locality of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough in southwestern Berlin. Until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was a part of the former borough of Zehlendorf.

In 1949, he became Director of the Jules Bordet Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (Institut Jules Bordet) and Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles), where he was Emeritus in 1971.
In the mid sixties during an Electron Microscopy symposium in (Bratislava)-(Czechoslovakia) organized by the (UNESCO) at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, he meets young scientist Dr. Emil Mrena who was at that time head of the Electron Microscopy department. He invited him to come and work with him in Brussels, making it possible for Dr. Mrena's family to escape the communist regime. Their close collaboration gave fruition to 5 publications from 1969 to 1974. With the support of his colleague and friend Christian de Duve, he became in 1972 Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain (Université catholique de Louvain) and Director of the "Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Cancérologie" in Louvain-la-Neuve where he moved with Dr. Emil Mrena as sole collaborator. At the same time, he was appointed Professor at the Rockefeller University, an institution with which he had remained connected, in different degrees, since 1929. [1]

Bratislava Capital city in Slovakia

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. With a population of about 430,000, it is one of the smaller capitals of Europe but still the country's largest city. The greater metropolitan area is home to more than 650,000 people. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia, occupying both banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two sovereign states.

Czechoslovakia 1918–1992 country in Central Europe, predecessor of the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia, was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Personal life

He married Julia Gilder in 1935, with whom he had a daughter Philippa. They got divorced while at Rockefeller. Philippa became a neuroscientist and married Antony Stretton.

Neuroscientist individual who studies neuroscience

A neuroscientist is a scientist who has specialised knowledge in the field of neuroscience, the branch of biology that deals with the physiology, biochemistry, anatomy and molecular biology of neurons and neural circuits and especially their association with behaviour and learning.

Antony "Tony" Oliver Ward Stretton, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist, faculty member of the Neuroscience Training Program, and the John Bascom Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is married to fellow scientist, Philippa Claude, daughter of Albert Claude.

Claude was known to be a bit of an eccentric and had close friendship with painters, including Diego Rivera and Paul Delvaux, and musicians such as Edgard Varèse.

After his retirement in 1971 from the University of Brussels and from the directorship of the Institut Jules Bordet, he continued his research at the Catholic University of Louvain with his collaborator Dr. Emil Mrena, who ended up resigning in 1977 due to decreasing activity of the Laboratory, moving to other research works. It is said that he continued his research in seclusion until he died of natural causes, at his home in Brussels, on Sunday night on 22 May 1983, but he had stopped visiting his own laboratory in Louvain already in 1976 due to his weak health. [4]

Awards and recognitions

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  1. 1 2 3 Claude, Albert. "Albert Claude – Biographical". Nobel Media AB. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  2. 1 2 Altman, Lawrence K. (24 May 1984). "DR. ALBERT CLAUDE DEAD AT 84; WON NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Albert Claude Biography (1898–1983)". Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 "Claude, Albert". Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. The Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  5. Palade GE (1971). "Albert Claude and the beginnings of biological electron microscopy". The Journal of Cell Biology. 50 (1): 5d–19d. doi:10.1083/jcb.50.1.5d. PMC   2108415 . PMID   4935221.
  6. Raju TN (1999). "The Nobel chronicles. 1974: Albert Claude (1899-1983), George Emil Palade (b 1912), and Christian Réne de Duve (b 1917)". The Lancet. 354 (9185): 1219. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)75433-7. PMID   10513750.
  7. Gompel C (2006). "Albert Claude, an exceptional man". Bull Mem Acad R Med Belg. 161 (10–12): 543–55. PMID   17503730.
  8. Aitchison, J. D. (12 May 2003). "Inventories to insights". The Journal of Cell Biology. 161 (3): 465–469. doi:10.1083/jcb.200302041. PMC   2172947 . PMID   12743099.

Further reading