Alexandre Yersin

Microbiologist 1863-1943


  • Alexander Yersin grew up in Morges Switzerland. He received his secondary education in Lausanne Switzerland, later he studied at University of Marboug and the Paris facility of Medicine. Yersin also studied and conducted research at the Pasteur Institute in Paris which was founded in 1888 by Louis Pasteur, who discovered that bacteria spreads disease.
  • In 1890 Yersin became a doctor for the French colonial service and left Europe to work in Asian Colonies, this began his four year exploration of the central region of Indochina. While on his trip a plague broke out in China, the French government assigned Yersin to study the disease and find a cure for it. Yersin worked out of a straw hut in Hong Kong for seven days until he isolated the plague bacillus or Yersinia pestis. He showed that the bacteria live in rats and other rodents and that fleas from rats transmit the disease to people. He returned to France and created an antiplague serum at the Pasteur Institute. He then returned to China and tested the serum on his first human subject, an ill young Chinese man. With in hours the patient showed signs of recovery.
  • In 1895 Yersin established a laboratory in Nha Trang (now Vietnam), which becomes a Pasteur Institute where he perfected the serum for the plague that reduced death rates from 90 percent to 7 percent. Yersin also directs a center for study and research at a medical school founded by Paul Doumer in Hanoi, which is now the capitol of Vietnam.

Works Cited

"Alexandre-Émile-John Yersin." Whonamedit. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2016.

"Alexander Yersin." HowStuffWorks., 21 Oct. 2008. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.