Pierre Jacques Antoine Béchamp

The originator of Terrain Theory, Pierre Jacques Antoine Béchamp was born in Bassing, near Dienze (Moselle), France in 1816. He was the son of a miller. He lived in Bucharest, Romania from the ages of 7 to 18 with an uncle who worked in the French ambassador’s office. There, he began to study pharmacy.

After the death of his uncle from cholera in 1834, he moved to Strasbourg to continue his studies at the École supérieure de Pharmacie. In 1843, he opened a pharmacy in Strasbourg (which existed up to the time of his death). He took on various faculty positions at the University of Strasbourg, and, in 1854, was appointed Professor of Chemistry, a post previously held by Louis Pasteur.

Over the course of his life, Béchamp developed several useful commercial inventions. In 1852, he created an inexpensive industrial process to produce aniline by the reduction of nitrobenzene with iron filings and acetic acid. This method greatly contributed to the emergence of the synthetic dye industry. For this work, along with others, he was awarded the Daniel Dollfus Prize of the Société Industrielle de Mulhouse in 1864. He also first synthesized the organic derivative of arsenic, p-aminophenylarsonate, which was subsequently used in the treatment of trypanosomiasis.