Armand Frappier

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Dr. Armand Frappier was born on November 26, 1904, in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada. He was the oldest of eight children born to Arthur-Alexis Frappier and Bernadette Codebecq.

Arthur-Alexis Frappier, Armand Frappier’s father, was a teacher and principal at schools in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield for twenty years. A talented artist, he was also the Cathedral’s organist, the local brass band’s director, and a music teacher. Bernadette Codebecq, Armand Frappier’s mother, had been a teacher, like many of his family members. Her father even founded a model school where she taught, as did her four sisters.

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Salaberry-de-Valleyfield was dominated by the high crenellated towers of a cotton manufacturing facility that was the main employer in the small town. The annual salary was about $ 350 for a 60-hour workweek. Income was modest but most people owned their homes and found a way to pay for their children’s education.

Dr. Armand Frappier was born on November 26, 1904, in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada. He was the oldest of eight children born to Arthur-Alexis Frappier and Bernadette Codebecq.

Arthur-Alexis Frappier, Armand Frappier’s father, was a teacher and principal at schools in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield for twenty years. A talented artist, he was also the Cathedral’s organist, the local brass band’s director, and a music teacher. Bernadette Codebecq, Armand Frappier’s mother, had been a teacher, like many of his family members. Her father even founded a model school where she taught, as did her four sisters.

For more information

Salaberry-de-Valleyfield was dominated by the high crenellated towers of a cotton manufacturing facility that was the main employer in the small town. The annual salary was about $ 350 for a 60-hour workweek. Income was modest but most people owned their homes and found a way to pay for their children’s education.


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

Armand, the first-born child of Arthur Frappier and Bernadette Codebecq

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


At age 6, Armand started school with the Sisters of Providence. His father insisted he repeat the fourth grade, judging that his marks were not up to par. Armand Frappier completed his "études classiques" at the Collège de Valleyfield, and finished among the top students in his class.

A career choice marked by pain

It was in college, from the first introductory courses in chemistry, that Armand Frappier discovered his passion for this branch of science. He set up a laboratory in the stable behind his house, where he could conduct experiments at his leisure. He thought he had found his calling. Unfortunately, Armand Frappier’s life and family had been affected by a black cloud: tuberculosis6. Without access to a vaccine to prevent the disease or treatments to cure it, Armand Frappier’s mother died from it in May, 1923, at 40 years of age. Armand Frappier was only 19 years old. This tremendous loss followed the loss of his little brother and his grandmother, both of whom succumbed to the same disease. During the same period of time, he suffered the loss of other close family members. He described these deaths as a black and Read More

At age 6, Armand started school with the Sisters of Providence. His father insisted he repeat the fourth grade, judging that his marks were not up to par. Armand Frappier completed his "études classiques" at the Collège de Valleyfield, and finished among the top students in his class.

A career choice marked by pain

It was in college, from the first introductory courses in chemistry, that Armand Frappier discovered his passion for this branch of science. He set up a laboratory in the stable behind his house, where he could conduct experiments at his leisure. He thought he had found his calling. Unfortunately, Armand Frappier’s life and family had been affected by a black cloud: tuberculosis6. Without access to a vaccine to prevent the disease or treatments to cure it, Armand Frappier’s mother died from it in May, 1923, at 40 years of age. Armand Frappier was only 19 years old. This tremendous loss followed the loss of his little brother and his grandmother, both of whom succumbed to the same disease. During the same period of time, he suffered the loss of other close family members. He described these deaths as a black and trying period in his life. Armand Frappier would become not a chemist, but a doctor.

His studies in medicine at the Université de Montréal

In 1924, he therefore registered as a student in the faculty of medicine at the Université de Montréal. From that moment on, he would pursue his fight against this “tueuse de maman” (mother killer).

In June 1930, after 5 years of study and work, he finally got his doctor’s diploma. But there was still a long way to go in order to realize his dream of doing research. In order to improve his knowledge of the basic sciences, he enrolled immediately in a one-year program to obtain certificates in biochemistry, physical chemistry, and mathematics.


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

Armand Frappier was, as he himself put it, an undisciplined student. He and his friend, Maximilien Caron, led the gang of unruly students. One day, a professor reprimanded them and told them what he thought of them. The lesson would turn out to be beneficial: both men went on to have brilliant careers, one in medicine, the other in law. At this time, he adopted the motto Vox non echo which means “you will be the voice, not the echo”.

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Drawing executed by Dr. Frappier during his protozoology course (1924-1925).

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Armand Frappier was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine on May 30, 1930, at the Université de Montréal. This document is a duplicate of the original diploma; it was issued on June 30, 1994.

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Dr. Armand Frappier’s original medical case.

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Dr. Armand Frappier’s stethoscope.

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


1931 : An encounter that shaped his career

"One day, as I was talking with the physiology professor, Dr. Elie Asselin, he said: "If you want to find a solution to tuberculosis, you won’t find it with chemistry, but with microbiology." Two days later I went and put my destiny in the hands of the Dean of Medicine of the Unversité de Montréal, Dr. Telesphore Parizeau, who welcomed me with open arms. He helped me get a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation so that I could go and study in the United States."

Dr. Télesphore Parizeau had himself studied at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

In the thirties, Quebec was unable to offer a more complete education to its graduates. The young Dr. Frappier had to look elsewhere – to the place where the development of science was beginning to accelerate – in order to acquire the knowledge he needed to attack tuberculosis.

His studies at the University of Rochester

In the early 1930s, a grant from the Rockfeller Foundation opened doors for him in the American laboratories at the University of Rochester N.Y. Memorial University, Read More

1931 : An encounter that shaped his career

"One day, as I was talking with the physiology professor, Dr. Elie Asselin, he said: "If you want to find a solution to tuberculosis, you won’t find it with chemistry, but with microbiology." Two days later I went and put my destiny in the hands of the Dean of Medicine of the Unversité de Montréal, Dr. Telesphore Parizeau, who welcomed me with open arms. He helped me get a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation so that I could go and study in the United States."

Dr. Télesphore Parizeau had himself studied at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

In the thirties, Quebec was unable to offer a more complete education to its graduates. The young Dr. Frappier had to look elsewhere – to the place where the development of science was beginning to accelerate – in order to acquire the knowledge he needed to attack tuberculosis.

His studies at the University of Rochester

In the early 1930s, a grant from the Rockfeller Foundation opened doors for him in the American laboratories at the University of Rochester N.Y. Memorial University, financed by Kodak, was rich and well equipped. The Université de Montréal, on the other hand, was poor and decrepit, and research there was poorly developed — an enormous contrast. Armand Frappier told himself that he would have a stimulating challenge in order to improve things when he returned home! During this learning period in the United States, he interned in the microbiology laboratories of several renowned researchers, many of whom were staunchly opposed to the BCG vaccine.


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

Trip to a sanatorium in 1931

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Travels

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


The BCG vaccine, developed and perfected at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, was the first live weakened vaccine to be used. The Americans, led by Dr. Petroff, were worried about its widespread use. They feared that, given time, the bacillus would regain its virulence (its power to cause the disease). After decades of being used in total safety, the fear of the BCG vaccine still persists in the United States.

Dr. Petroff, a great opponent to the use of BCG, died of tuberculosis. Dr. Frappier trained in his laboratory in 1932.

When Dr. Frappier arrived at the Institut Pasteur, the BCG vaccine had been in successful use for eight years. Dr. Negre’s experiments, after those of Calmette and Guerin, had proven the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, and had shown that the Americans' great fear of seeing the virulence reappear was unfounded. The Institut Pasteur was at the very heart of microbiology and of the fight against tuberculosis. This was quite an experience for Dr. Frappier, because this was when he learned to produce the BCG vaccine. Convinced that we finally had an efficient weapon against tuberculosis, Dr. Frappier returned to the country with ve Read More

The BCG vaccine, developed and perfected at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, was the first live weakened vaccine to be used. The Americans, led by Dr. Petroff, were worried about its widespread use. They feared that, given time, the bacillus would regain its virulence (its power to cause the disease). After decades of being used in total safety, the fear of the BCG vaccine still persists in the United States.

Dr. Petroff, a great opponent to the use of BCG, died of tuberculosis. Dr. Frappier trained in his laboratory in 1932.

When Dr. Frappier arrived at the Institut Pasteur, the BCG vaccine had been in successful use for eight years. Dr. Negre’s experiments, after those of Calmette and Guerin, had proven the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, and had shown that the Americans' great fear of seeing the virulence reappear was unfounded. The Institut Pasteur was at the very heart of microbiology and of the fight against tuberculosis. This was quite an experience for Dr. Frappier, because this was when he learned to produce the BCG vaccine. Convinced that we finally had an efficient weapon against tuberculosis, Dr. Frappier returned to the country with very precious baggage: a flask containing a strain of the famous BCG!

"We arrived in Montreal on January 1, 1933, after a transatlantic crossing during which the Carinthia met such a storm that water was entering by the windows in the living room."

"During these studies abroad, I had not only opened my mind, but I also became more familiar with the experimental method. I had become friends with my professors and they had promised me their help. I followed their advice and kept in touch with them until their deaths. I brought a strain of BCG from the Institut Pasteur back with me."


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

At a time when borrowing on credit was not common, Dr. Frappier took out a loan in order to study at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. He arrived at this "Hotbed of discoverers" in the fall of 1932, in order to work with the best.

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


Trip to the Institut Pasteur de Paris

Armand-Frappier Museum

© Armand-Frappier Museum


Trip to the Institut Pasteur de Paris

Armand-Frappier Museum

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


He pursued his postdoctoral studies, taking advanced courses in mathematics, biology, and biochemistry. At the beginning of 1933, he obtained his Bachelor of Science, composed of three study certificates, from the Université de Montréal.

In 1933, Dr. Frappier was the first North American researcher solicited by the National Research Council of Canada to confirm the quality and effectiveness of the BCG vaccine and to develop a safe production process. The Institut Pasteur entrusted Dr. Frappier with a BCG strain that he brought back to Canada in order to produce a live but attenuated vaccine here. Dr. Frappier was a supporter of the rational application of antituberculosis vaccination by BCG in Canada.

He pursued his postdoctoral studies, taking advanced courses in mathematics, biology, and biochemistry. At the beginning of 1933, he obtained his Bachelor of Science, composed of three study certificates, from the Université de Montréal.

In 1933, Dr. Frappier was the first North American researcher solicited by the National Research Council of Canada to confirm the quality and effectiveness of the BCG vaccine and to develop a safe production process. The Institut Pasteur entrusted Dr. Frappier with a BCG strain that he brought back to Canada in order to produce a live but attenuated vaccine here. Dr. Frappier was a supporter of the rational application of antituberculosis vaccination by BCG in Canada.


© 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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