Jules Bordet (1870-1961) was a Belgian bacteriologist and immunologist remembered for his pioneering work in serology. In 1919 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on the application of serological techniques to diagnosis and control of infectious diseases.

Bordet was educated at the Athenee Royal of Brussels and the University of Brussels, where he earned his MD in 1892. In 1894, Bordet won a fellowship at the Institut Pasteur in Paris where he joined Elie Metchnikoff’s laboratory. There he studied and compared processes of bacteriolysis and hemolysis, and he used of hemolytic and precipitating serums to explore antigenic specificity. Developing this work, Bordet discovered a substance known as "alexin" and noted its role in antigen-antibody processes. To Bordet this discovery also suggested a way to identify the presence of specific disease antibodies in a patient's blood serum. With his brother-in-law Octave Gengou, Bordet successfully applied this insight to the serodiagnosis of typhoid fever, carbuncle, hog cholera, and other diseases.

In 1906, Bordet and and Gengou (1875-1957) isolated Bordetella pertussis as the cause of whooping cough, prepared a vaccine, and studied the bacillus's variations. He also isolated the bacilli causing bovine peripneumonia and avian diphtheria and undertook studies of blood coagulation and bacteriophages.

In 1900 Bordet founded the Pasteur Institute Brussels, which he directed until 1940. He was promoted to Professor of Bacteriology at the Free University of Brussels in 1907, where he taught until 1935 while also lecturing annually at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.


Vieuchange, Jean. "Bordet, Jules." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 2, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008. 300-301.

Last modified 27 January 2017