Albert Calmette (1863-1933) was among the first bacteriologists trained by Émile Roux at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. His medical habilitation had been with the School of Naval Physicians, Brest, and the Naval Medical Corps, Hong Kong. Assigned by Pasteur to lead a Pasteur Institute in Saigon, then French Indochina, where he specialized in immunology and toxicology, and distinguished himself as an expert in snake venom. In 1895, he returned to Paris as director of the Pasteur Institute recently established at Lille, a position he would hold for the next two and a half decades.

Turning his attention to public health, Calmette undertook research the purification of sewage and the treatment of hookworm as well as an intensive study of tuberculosis. As Director of the Pasteur Institute at Lille, Calmette organised an anti-TB dispensary in 1901 and the Ligue du Nord contre le Tuberculose in 1904. With his associate Camille Guerin, Calmette developed the BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) tuberculosis vaccine, which remains in use today and is his best-known and most important contribution.

In 1917 he was appointed assistant director of the Pasteur Institute in Paris where he founded the tuberculosis department despite being unable to leave northern France, which was then under German occupation. (His wife had been deported.) Calmette died suddenly in 1933.


DeLaunay, Albert."Calmette, Albert." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 3, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008, pp. 22-23.

Last modified 25 January 2017