Ilya Mechnikov life and biography

Ilya Mechnikov picture, image, poster

Ilya Mechnikov biography

Date of birth : 1845-05-16
Date of death : 1916-07-16
Birthplace : Ivanovka, Ukraine
Nationality : Ukrainian
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-19
Credited as : microbiologist, Researched the immune system, Nobel laureate

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Ilya Mechnikov was a Russian microbiologist who researched the immune system, and discovered phagocytes (cells which devour infective organisms).

He shared the 1908 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Paul Ehrlich. Mechnikov also researched syphilis, and developed a theory that drinking sour milk could extend life. He taught for more than a decade at Odessa University, which has since been renamed in his honor, I.I. Mechnikov Odessa National University.

Mechnikov returned to Odesa as director of an institute set up to carry out Pasteur's vaccine against rabies, but due to some difficulties left in 1888 and went to Paris to seek Pasteur's advice. Pasteur gave him an appointment at the Pasteur Institute, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Mechnikov's work on phagocytes won him the Nobel Prize in 1908. He worked with Émile Roux on calomel, an ointment to prevent people from contracting syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease.

Mechnikov also developed a theory that aging is caused by toxic bacteria in the gut and that lactic acid could prolong life. Based on this theory, he drank sour milk every day. He wrote three books: Immunity in Infectious Diseases, The Nature of Man, and The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies, the last of which, along with Metchnikoff's studies into the potential life-lengthening properties of lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus), inspired Japanese scientist Minoru Shirota to begin investigating the causal relationship between bacteria and good intestinal health, which eventually led to the worldwide marketing of Kefir and other fermented milk drinks, or probiotics.

Mechnikov died in 1916 in Paris from heart failure.

Author of books:
-The Comparative Pathology of Inflammation (1892, research)
-Immunity in Infectious Diseases (1901, research)
-The Nature of Man (1903, non-fiction)

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