Charles Nicolle

Charles Nicolle was born on September 12, 1866 in Rouen, France.  By the time Nicolle was 18 years old he was deaf.  He went to school at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

Many people in his family were interested in science.  He could read lips very well. Nicolle got his doctorate degree.  While he was in school he studied a disease caused by Ducrey’s bacillus.  After graduating he was an assistant professor and worked at the hospital.

Pasteur Institute in Paris

Picture Courtesy of the Pasteur Institute

Child getting a vaccine

Photo courtesy of the Center for Disease Control

Photo Courtesy of Diphtheria Surveillance Network



He worked hard to develop ways to vaccinate people against diphtheria.  He changed jobs and worked at the Pasteur Institute. He worked there because he wanted to build a big place for people to research and make vaccines.  The place he built was the best research center. 

Nicolle’s biggest accomplishment was when he discovered the cause of typhus.  He discovered that lice spread typhus.  

A Louse

Photo Courtesy of Hennepin County, Missouri

Picture Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

Nobel Prize

Picture Courtesy of


He won the Nobel Prize for this discovery.  Many lives were saved because of his discovery during World War I.  He also discovered that people can have a contagious sickness their whole life without even knowing they are sick.

He also studied how ticks and flies spread disease and helped identify influenza or the flu as a virus.  He also worked on a vaccination for measles.  Later in his life Nicolle was a teacher at the College de France. 


Tick  - Picture Courtesy of South Somerset District Council


Picture Courtesy of the Visual Dictionary

  He died on February 28, 1936 in Tunis, Tunisia.    


Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Charles Henri Nicolle.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and   
     Sciences (pp.276-278). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.