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Paul Emilio Roux (1853–1933)
  1. L F HAAS

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    The French microbiologist Emilio Roux obtained his MD in 1881. He then joined the newly created Pasteur Institute and in 1904 became its director; he remained in this post until his death in 1933. Roux worked with Pasteur with many of his medical discoveries. He assisted in his work with anthrax vaccination and did much of the early work on the development of a rabies vaccine. Later he disagreed with Pasteur on the speed with which the vaccine was applied to humans and withdrew from the project.

    His most important work was his discovery in 1885 with the Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin of diphtheria toxins and that the menace of diphtheria lay not in the bacteria themselves, but in the lethal toxin produced. Later he inoculated horses with the toxin and collected the serum, which contained an antitoxin. By 1894 he had tried this serum on patients in the Enfants Maladies Hospital in Paris. Within 4 months the mortality from diphtheria fell from 51% to 24%.

    In 1903 Roux, with Elie Metchnikoff, achieved some success in transmitting syphilis to a chimpanzee. This facilitated the laboratory investigation of syphilis and the search for a cure.

    He suffered in the last 30 years of his life from chronic tuberculosis. Roux never married and lived in the hospital. He gave all his money to the Pasteur Institute and after a national funeral was buried in the garden of the institute. The institute is situated on the Rue de Docteur Roux.

    Roux was postally honoured by France in 1954 (Stanley Gibbons 1219, Scott B289) and again by Cuba in 1993 (Stanley Gibbons 3806, Scott 3484).