During the first years of the post-war era, many French scientists travelled in the United States. As they looked for a reference to be used in rebuilding their own scientific landscape, their diaries say as much about the rise of the American biomedical complex as they do about their perception of research in the country. In order to illustrate how the French biologists adopted, competed with, or challenged the American model and how transatlantic exchanges played a critical role in the molecularization of the life sciences, this paper presents three trajectories of laboratories. These include the services respectively led by P. Lépine and J. Monod at the Pasteur Institute, and G. Schapira’s biochemical research unit at the Hôpital des Enfants Malades. The three studies document the massive transatlantic circulation of materials, techniques, instruments, and people during the scientific reconstruction. The reconstruction however produced highly differentiated characters each operating in his own niche: the biotechnological inventor, the neo-clinician, and the fundamental biologist. The comparison situates the rise of molecular biology within the context of a rapidly expanding biomedical research system. It will help in understanding how, in contrast to the American situation, a logic of “demedicalization” became in France a means for developing biology at the molecular level
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DOI 10.1016/s1369-8486(02)00012-2
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