Professor Michel MorangeBiography
Michel Morange was trained in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He then turned to cell biology, and entered into François Jacob’s lab in the same Institute. With Olivier Bensaude, he created in 1991, at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, a group whose project was to characterize the regulation of heat shock gene expression.
Michel Morange received also in parallel a formation in history and philosophy of sciences. His main interest is the history of the transformations of biology during the 20th century – in particular the rise of molecular biology (Michel Morange (1998) A history of molecular biology (Cambridge: Harvard University press)). He discussed the strengths and limits of the genetic vision (Michel Morange (2001) The misunderstood gene (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).
More recently, he turned his attention to the present transformations of biology, with the rise of new disciplines such as systems biology and synthetic biology, the increasing place of epigenetics, the criticism of reductionism, the growing role of interdisciplinarity, and the reemergence of the question of life (Michel Morange (2008) Life explained (New Haven: Yale University Press)). His present project of research consists in appreciating the true significance of these transformations: multidisciplinarity and the development of new technologies are characteristics common to the present time, and to the years which preceded the rise of molecular biology, but the scientific context is too differen to make of the present transformations something similar to the molecular revolution.
"In this lecture, I will try to define the currentfrontiers of knowledge in biology. But the frontiers of knowledge can also be seen as the limits of knowledge, as the obstacles that have to be overcome, as the gaps that have to be filled. If you ask biologists, they will give you a list of unanswered questions, a series of current descriptions that are considered insufficient.The limits of knowledge also dramatically emerge when biological knowledge is used for practical issues, as in fighting diseases."
Not only is evolutionary biology an important subdiscipline of biology, but evolutionary questioning is progressively being introduced into the different parts of functional biology. What was the origin of these complex molecular devices? Can we reconstitute the processes by which they were progressively elaborated during evolution?