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Albert Calmette (France)

The stamp

This stamp shows Albert Calmette and was issued in France in 1948 to celebrate the first International Congress on BCG in Paris.

The doctor

Léon Charles Albert Calmette was born in Nice on 12 July 1863. He joined the French Navy as a doctor in 1881. He travelled a lot, serving in Japan, North America and Africa. When he returned to France in 1890, he worked with Louis Pasteur at the Pasteur Institute in Paris from where he was sent to French Indo-China, to set up a branch of the Pasteur Institute in Saigon.

Back in France again, in 1895, he was put in charge of the Pasteur Institute in Lille. He was very interested in infections, especially tropical diseases. He studied malaria, sleeping sickness and developed anti-venom against snake bite.

The urology connections

Albert Calmette helped develop the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine against tuberculosis (TB). In urology, BCG is used to treat bladder cancer. Put into the bladder, it can reduce the chance of bladder cancer coming back or getting worse.

Calmette also studied filariasis or elephantiasis and wrote his medical thesis on it. Filariasis can cause huge swelling of the body, so the person looks almost like an elephant. It is a cindition we sometimes see in urology, usually affecting the scrotum and legs.

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