The heritage of Sanofi Pasteurdates back more than a century, and is closely linked with the achievements of Louis Pasteur, the Mérieux family, John FitzGerald and Richard Slee. Although each followed a unique path, they shared one goal – protecting people from infectious diseases.
Sanofi Pasteur is a truly global company based on innovation, scientific rigor and international synergies. We are proud of our rich heritage and continue to draw inspiration from the legacy of the pioneers who built our foundation.
Louis Pasteur made a series of discoveries throughout his career that revolutionized modern medicine and laid the groundwork for the practice of microbiology. His contributions stem from the “germ theory of disease” – the discovery that infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms. Further to this theory, Pasteur found that injecting a weakened form of a microorganism could protect the body from the diseases that it causes. This discovery led to the development of a number of vaccines, including the rabies vaccine, first administered to a human in 1885. Pasteur’s work also resulted in changes to hospital infection practices and food safety.
Pasteur dedicated the final years of his life to the establishment of the Institut Pasteur, a non-profit organization that continues work on protecting people from infectious diseases today. Over the years, Sanofi Pasteur has maintained a privileged relationship with the institute.
Three generations of the Mérieux family – Marcel, son Charles and grandson Alain – dedicated their lives to protecting people from infectious diseases. The most important contribution of the Mérieux Institute was the development of industrial-scale vaccine production, allowing large numbers of people to be vaccinated in a relatively short period of time. In 1974, techniques developed by the institute prevented an epidemic of meningococcal meningitis types A and C in Brazil, where 90 million people were immunized in nine months.
John FitzGerald had a vision of producing life-saving public health products at prices within everyone’s reach. Founded by FitzGerald in 1914, Connaught Laboratories grew rapidly, producing vaccines and serums against diphtheria, smallpox, tetanus and meningitis. The laboratories also made an important contribution to the battle against polio. After he developed the first injectable polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk used techniques developed by Connaught scientists to produce his vaccine on a large scale, bringing an end to the epidemics in North America in the 1950s.
In 1897, Richard Slee founded the Pocono Biological Laboratories in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, to house the production of a new breed of smallpox vaccine. More than 100 years later, his legacy remains intact - smallpox has been officially eradicated on the global stage since 1980, and his laboratory has grown to become the U.S. location of Sanofi Pasteur.