Louis Pasteur ( /ˈluːi pæsˈtɜr/, French pronunciation ; December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist born in Dole. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases. His discoveries reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and he created the first vaccine for rabies and anthrax. His experiments supported the germ theory of disease. He was best known to the general public for inventing a method to stop milk and wine from causing sickness, a process that came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of microbiology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. Pasteur also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry, most notably the molecular basis for the asymmetry of certain crystals. His body lies beneath the Institute Pasteur in Paris in a spectacular vault covered in depictions of his accomplishments in Byzantine mosaics.
Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822, in Dole in the Jura region of France, into the family of a poor tanner. Louis grew up in the town of Arbois. He gained degrees in Letters and in Mathematical Sciences before entering the École Normale Supérieure, an elite college. After serving briefly as professor of physics at Dijon Lycée in 1848, he became professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, where he met and courted Marie Laurent, daughter of the university's rector, in 1849. They were married on May 29, 1849, and together had five children, only two of whom survived to adulthood; the other three died of typhoid. These personal tragedies inspired Pasteur to try to find cures for diseases such as typhoid.
In Pasteur's early work as a chemist, he resolved a problem concerning the nature of tartaric acid (1848). A solution of this compound derived from living things (specifically, wine lees) rotated the plane of polarization of light passing through it. The mystery was that tartaric acid derived by chemical synthesis had no such effect, even though its chemical reactions were identical and its elemental composition was the same. This was the first time anyone had demonstrated chiral molecules.