André Boivin: A pioneer in endotoxin research and an amazing visionary during the birth of molecular biology

Innate Immun. 2020 Apr;26(3):165-171. doi: 10.1177/1753425919842307. Epub 2019 Nov 1.


André Boivin (1895–1949) started his career in Marseille as a biochemist. Soon after the discovery of insulin, he worked on its purification, allowing for the treatment of local patients. He later moved to Strasbourg and set-up a microtitration technique of small carbon molecules and a method for quantifying purine and pyrimidine bases. His main scientific contribution occurred in Bucharest, where he was recruited to organize the teaching of medicinal chemistry. Together with Ion and Lydia Mesrobeanu, at the Cantacuzene Institute, they were the first to characterize the biochemical nature of endotoxins, which he termed the “glucido-lipidic antigen.” After joining the Institut Pasteur annex near Paris, he worked with Gaston Ramon pursuing his research on smooth and rough LPS. Additionally, with Albert Delaunay, he researched the formation of exotoxins and antibodies (Abs). He was nominated assistant-director of the Institut Pasteur in 1940. He initiated research on bacterial DNA and RNA, and was the first to hypothesize on how RNA fits into gene function. In 1947 he moved for a second time to Strasbourg, accepting a position as a Professor of Biological Chemistry. After his premature death at the age of 54, the French academies mourned his loss and recognized him as one of their outstanding masters of biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology.

Keywords: Immunochemistry; biochemistry; endotoxin; history; molecular biology.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endotoxins / history*
  • France
  • History, 20th Century
  • Molecular Biology / history*
  • Research / history*


  • Endotoxins

Personal name as subject

  • André Boivin