Suzanne Bourgeois was born and educated in Brussels, Belgium. In 1961, she moved to the Pasteur Institute in Paris to join the laboratory of Professor Jacques Monod with whom she undertook a doctoral thesis at the University of Paris/Sorbonne. She obtained her doctorate degree from the Sorbonne in 1966.
It is at the Pasteur Institute that she met one of the future founders of the Salk Institute, Melvin Cohn. In 1963, they married and moved to La Jolla to start up the Salk Institute. There she founded the Regulatory Biology Laboratory. She has published numerous articles on gene regulation. After closing her laboratory she realized that she was one of the last witnesses of the amazing genesis of the Salk Institute and she made it her mission to write the book “Genesis of the Salk Institute: the Epic of its Founders.” She is currently a Professor Emeritus at the institute.