The Jean Brachet Story
Jean Louis Auguste Brachet became President of the International Society of Differentiation at the Society’s founding in 1971 and later was named Honorary Life President until his death in 1988.A founder of modern cell and developmental biology, Brachet began his studies on the cellular localization and functions of RNA and DNA in the 1920’s, before their genetic significance was understood. Using cytochemical techniques, he discovered RNA and demonstrated that it was enriched in nucleoli. He went on to show that it moves from the nucleus to the cytoplasm where it directs protein synthesis. In other seminal discoveries, Brachet showed that chloroplasts contain DNA and that chloroplast specific RNA can be made independent of the nucleus. He also described the first example of transport of a protein from the cytoplasm into the nucleus. Brachet believed that biochemistry was central to development and was fond of referring to his field as “Chemical Embryology”. Brachet was concurrently Professor on the Science Faculty at Brussells and Director of the Laboratory of Animal Morphology at the Free University of Brussells in Rhode Ste Genese. Brachet authored
Biochemical Cytology, Academic Press, 1957, and
The Biochemistry of Development, Pergamon Press, 1960, which remain classics. Among Brachet’s many honors were:
Belgium: the Lauriat du Concourse Universitaire, Van Beneden Prize, DePotter Prize, Quinquennial Prize of Fundamental Medical Sciences (Royal Academy)
France: Charles Meyer Prize;
The Netherlands: H.P. Heineken Prize. The International Society of Differentiation honored Brachet’s contributions to science and to the Society with the first Jean Brachet Memorial Lecture at the 6th International Conference on Differentiation held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1990. The lecture series has continued at every ISD sponsored international conference since that time.
Jean Brachet (Belgium)