René Jules Dubos (February 20, 1901 – February 20, 1982), was a French-American microbiologist, experimental pathologist, environmentalist, humanist, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book So Human An Animal. He is credited as an author of a maxim "Think globally, act locally". He devoted most of his professional life to the empirical study of microbial diseases and to the analysis of the environmental and social factors that affect the welfare of humans. His pioneering research in isolating antibacterial substances from certain soil microorganisms led to the discovery of major antibiotics. He performed groundbreaking research and wrote extensively on a number of subjects, including: tuberculosis, pneumonia, and the mechanisms of acquired immunity, natural susceptibility, and resistance to infection.
In later years, Dubos explored the interplay of environmental forces and the physical, mental and spiritual development of mankind. The main tenets of his humanistic philosophy were: global problems are conditioned by local circumstances and choices, social evolution enables us to rethink human actions and change direction to promote an ecologically balanced environment, the future is optimistic since human life and nature are resilient and we have become increasingly aware of the dangers inherent in natural forces and human activities, and we can benefit from our successes and apply the lessons learned to solving other contemporary environmental problems.
Dubos’ writings demonstrate how his interest in the environment evolved from a bacterial context to a humanistic and social perspective. His scientific contributions and environmental philosophy are embodied in such works as Bacterial and Mycotic Infections in Man (1948), Biochemical Determinants of Microbial Diseases (1954), Mirage of Health; Utopias, Progress, and Biological Change (1959), Pasteur and Modern Science (1960), Man, Medicine, Environment (1968), So Human an Animal (1968; Pulitizer Prize, 1969), Only One Earth (1972), Wooing of Earth (1980), and Celebrations of Life (1981).
René Dubos is an author of a popular maxim "Think Globally, Act Locally" that refers to the argument that global environmental problems can turn into action only by considering ecological, economic, and cultural differences of our local surroundings. This phrase was originated by Dubos as an advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. In 1979, Dubos suggested that ecological consciousness should begin at home. He believed that there needed to be a creation of a World Order in which "natural and social units maintain or recapture their identity, yet interplay with each other through a rich system of communications". In the 1980s, Dubos held to his thoughts on acting locally, and felt that issues involving the environment must be dealt with in their "unique physical, climatic, and cultural contexts."
He served as chairman of the trustees of the René Dubos Center for Human Environment, a non-profit education and research organization, which was dedicated in his honor in 1980. The mission of the Center which was co-founded by William and Ruth Eblen is to “assist the general public and decision-makers in formulating policies for the resolution of environmental problems and the creation of environmental values.” Dubos remained actively involved in the programs of the Centre and activities until his death in 1982.
Rene Dubos, friend of the good earth; microbiologist, medical scientist, and environmentalist.(Brief Article)(Book Review)
Dec 01, 2005; 9781555813406 Rene Dubos, friend of the good earth; microbiologist, medical scientist, and environmentalist. Ed. by Moberg, Carol...
Of microbes, medicine, and ecology.(Rene Dubos, Friend of the Good Earth Microbiologist, Medical Scientist, Environmentalist)(Book review)
Mar 03, 2006; Rene Dubos, Friend of the Good Earth Microbiologist, Medical Scientist, Environmentalist by Carol L. Moberg American Society for...
Dr. Dubos: TB is a social disease. (includes views of Rene Dubos on the transmission and virulence of tuberculosis) (Special Issue: Tuberculosis)
Jun 22, 1991; "But even though the disease was given a gloss of romanticism during the 19th century, it was still the feared White Plague. In...