Michel Fardeau

A Neurological Passion Jules and Augusta Dejerine Publication date : January 25, 2017

Michel Fardeau, emeritus research director at the CNRS (National Scientific Research Centre) and honorary professor at the CNAM (National Arts & Trades Centre), has run the Myology Institute at La Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital since it was founded by the French Association Against Myopathies.
When you think of scientific couples, Pierre and Marie Curie inevitably come to mind. From now on, we’ll have to add their contemporaries, Jules Dejerine (1849-1917) and Augusta Dejerine-Klumpke (1859-1927) to that distinguished company.

Although Jules’s work in semiology and neuro-anatomy is well known to neurologists, Augusta’s role is often minimized. Yet it was crucial. While Jules devoted himself to clinical studies, Augusta carried out the laboratory work with rigorous care. But the Polish-American emigrant – despite being an ardent feminist – knew she could never hope for honours beyond her colleagues’ esteem at a time when women were exceedingly rare.

Jules Dejerine wound up holding the academic chair of his long-time adversary, Jean-Martin Charcot, at Salpêtrière University Hospital, but the quality and precision of his publications challenged many of the the master’s claims, which led to his being marginalized in Parisian academic and medical society. That marginalization is no longer admissible at a time when the scientific community is finally recognizing the importance of the Dejerines’ work: this book is coming out at in time for an international Dejerine symposium in January 2017.