In 1927, Armand Frappier set up the diagnostic laboratory at Saint-Luc Hospital; he managed it until 1943.

The thirties were hard and sad. The economic crisis dragged on. In Quebec, a university and a scientific community had to fight for their survival. The construction of the new building for the Université de Montréal, on Mont Royal, was interrupted for lack of money. In the middle of these gray times, Armand Frappier returned from abroad, his head full of projects…

But his employer, the Université de Montréal, was unable to offer him a decent salary. To make a living, he had to take up a second position as chief of laboratories at the Hôpital Saint-Luc.

Elsewhere in the world, bacteriology was making big strides. After his studies in the United States and France, Dr. Frappier attacked head on the work of creating a modern bacteriology department in Montreal at the Faculty of Medicine of the Université de Montréal. During the reorganization of the department, he introduced the Master's and Doctoral programs. From 1933 on, Dr. Frappier taught microbiology and preventive medicine there, and continued to do so for more than 35 years. He was the f Read More

In 1927, Armand Frappier set up the diagnostic laboratory at Saint-Luc Hospital; he managed it until 1943.

The thirties were hard and sad. The economic crisis dragged on. In Quebec, a university and a scientific community had to fight for their survival. The construction of the new building for the Université de Montréal, on Mont Royal, was interrupted for lack of money. In the middle of these gray times, Armand Frappier returned from abroad, his head full of projects…

But his employer, the Université de Montréal, was unable to offer him a decent salary. To make a living, he had to take up a second position as chief of laboratories at the Hôpital Saint-Luc.

Elsewhere in the world, bacteriology was making big strides. After his studies in the United States and France, Dr. Frappier attacked head on the work of creating a modern bacteriology department in Montreal at the Faculty of Medicine of the Université de Montréal. During the reorganization of the department, he introduced the Master's and Doctoral programs. From 1933 on, Dr. Frappier taught microbiology and preventive medicine there, and continued to do so for more than 35 years. He was the founder and dean of the university’s school of hygiene for 20 years. This school was the first and only French language university of its kind in the world, and Armand Frappier was instrumental in the school’s organization.


© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.

The Université de Montréal named Dr. Frappier assistant professor in bacteriology and director of the BCG laboratory. This laboratory would eventually become the most important one of its kind in the Americas and Canada was the second country, after France, to produce the BCG vaccine.

The BCG vaccine against tuberculosis contained no preservatives. The technique used allowed it to be prepared quickly and specific conditions ensured its preservation. Neither the vaccine nor the strain was ever contaminated in more than 50 years.

The Université de Montréal named Dr. Frappier assistant professor in bacteriology and director of the BCG laboratory. This laboratory would eventually become the most important one of its kind in the Americas and Canada was the second country, after France, to produce the BCG vaccine.

The BCG vaccine against tuberculosis contained no preservatives. The technique used allowed it to be prepared quickly and specific conditions ensured its preservation. Neither the vaccine nor the strain was ever contaminated in more than 50 years.


© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.

Tubercle bacillus

Photo : Robert Alain

© Robert Alain, SME, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier


In March 1938, he founded the Institut de microbiologie et d’hygiène de Montréal, and served as its director for 38 years.

In 1939, the lack of space and the need to build a "hyperimmunization stable" led the Institute’s administrators to buy a farm in Laval-des-Rapides, a suburb of Montreal. Over the years, the acquired land covered 168 arpents, which is equivalent to 142 acres or 6,213,723 square feet; on it now stand 24 buildings, including several laboratories.

It is this research center that since 1975 has been called the Institut Armand-Frappier.

Since 1988, this teaching and research institute has been part of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), a constituent of the Université du Québec.

In March 1938, he founded the Institut de microbiologie et d’hygiène de Montréal, and served as its director for 38 years.

In 1939, the lack of space and the need to build a "hyperimmunization stable" led the Institute’s administrators to buy a farm in Laval-des-Rapides, a suburb of Montreal. Over the years, the acquired land covered 168 arpents, which is equivalent to 142 acres or 6,213,723 square feet; on it now stand 24 buildings, including several laboratories.

It is this research center that since 1975 has been called the Institut Armand-Frappier.

Since 1988, this teaching and research institute has been part of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), a constituent of the Université du Québec.


© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.

Despite the prevailing economic crisis, financial aid to found the Institute was sought from the Quebec Premier, Maurice Duplessis, with the support of Dr. Préfontaine and his friends. The Institute was initially housed in the Mount Royal building of the Université de Montréal. The Institute was on the 6th floor, and as there was no elevator, the personnel had to climb 240 stairs to get to it. Heifers used in research were carried up on men’s backs.

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.


The Institute moved to the present Laval campus in 1963. This land was part of a farm that had been bought in 1939 in order to keep the big animals (horses and calves) needed in the production of serums, diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, as well as smallpox vaccines. The food for the Institute’s numerous laboratory animals was also grown at the farm.

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.


World War II started in 1939. The young director of the Institute (Dr. Frappier was only 35 years old) convinced the Red Cross and the National Defense minister that his team could take over the lyophilization of blood serum for the armed forces. This first challenge was met with success: 150,000 units of serum were sent to the Canadian and allied forces.
World War II started in 1939. The young director of the Institute (Dr. Frappier was only 35 years old) convinced the Red Cross and the National Defense minister that his team could take over the lyophilization of blood serum for the armed forces. This first challenge was met with success: 150,000 units of serum were sent to the Canadian and allied forces.

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.

The Canadian Red Cross Society awarded Dr. Armand Frappier its highest distinction, the honorary member’s medal, to reward the team at the Institut de microbiologie et d'hygiène de l'Université de Montréal for their great effort during the Second World War.

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.


In 1942, the Institute produced the diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus vaccine (DPT), and the antibiotics gramicidin and penicillin.

The Institute’s clientele was composed of more than 14 countries, all the Canadian provinces, the federal government and all its civil services, its military services and its aid programs to developing nations, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies.

After the war, penicillin and streptomycin were put at the disposal of civilians. It was at that time that the Institut Armand Frappier, along with industry, allowed these antibiotics to be distributed to Canadians.

At the time, penicillin was only distributed for military use. One day, when a civilian patient was on the verge of dying, Dr. Frappier was asked to determine the nature of the infection from a microbial point of view. He took steps and showed the test results to a committee, which was satisfied and made penicillin available to him. Within just a few hours following treatment, the patient’s condition was remarkably improved and within a few days he was in perfect health. Dr. Frappier was thus the first civilian doctor in Quebec to treat a civ Read More
In 1942, the Institute produced the diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus vaccine (DPT), and the antibiotics gramicidin and penicillin.

The Institute’s clientele was composed of more than 14 countries, all the Canadian provinces, the federal government and all its civil services, its military services and its aid programs to developing nations, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies.

After the war, penicillin and streptomycin were put at the disposal of civilians. It was at that time that the Institut Armand Frappier, along with industry, allowed these antibiotics to be distributed to Canadians.

At the time, penicillin was only distributed for military use. One day, when a civilian patient was on the verge of dying, Dr. Frappier was asked to determine the nature of the infection from a microbial point of view. He took steps and showed the test results to a committee, which was satisfied and made penicillin available to him. Within just a few hours following treatment, the patient’s condition was remarkably improved and within a few days he was in perfect health. Dr. Frappier was thus the first civilian doctor in Quebec to treat a civilian patient with penicillin by injection. Since then this treatment has been used to cure numerous infections!

The new great challenge of the Institute: The fight against two great viral diseases which are a menace to public health: influenza and poliomyelitis. Dr. Vytautas Pavilanis developed the virology department of the Institute and encouraged the team to produce vaccines against polio and influenza. With time running out, the Institute was able to produce, beginning in 1957, the anti-polio Salk vaccine as well as the vaccine against Asian flu.

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.

Candling device used in the production of the influenza vaccine.

In 1957, the Institute became the only continuous influenza vaccine producer in Canada.

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.


Production of the Salk and Sabin vaccines for the prevention of poliomyelitis. Rotating system for stirring tubes containing tissue culture of monkey kidneys and viruses for the production of Salk vaccine against poliomyelitis by the Institut de microbiologie et d'hygiène de l'Université de Montréal.

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.


Production of Salk and Sabin vaccines for the prevention of poliomyelitis. Mechanical system for stirring virus cultures in the oven for the production of Salk vaccine against poliomyelitis by the Institut de microbiologie et d'hygiène de l'Université de Montréal.

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum, 2008. All rights reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • familiarize himself with the vocabulary used in microbiology;
  • explain the relationship between developments in imaging technology and the current understanding of the cell;
  • identify which microorganisms are infectious, how the immune system fights against them, and the reinforcements of modern medicine;
  • describe the benefits of microorganisms.

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