Maurice Villaret

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French neurologist, born December 7, 1877, Paris; died 1946.

Biography of Maurice Villaret

Maurice Villaret's mother was a well known pianist and his father a physician who was an amateur painter and had an interest in history. He grew up with a passionate fondness for literature and history and appreciation for painting, enjoying visits to the museums in Italy with his father. He was very keen on outdoor activities, was an alpinist as well as a keen sailor and bicycled all over Corsica as well as most parts of Europe.

While a student in Paris Villaret worked with Charles-Joseph Bouchard (1837-1915), Georges Henri Roger (1860-1946) and François Henri Halloppeau (1842-1919) but his major influence was Nicolas Augustin Gilbert (1858-1927).

Villaret graduated in medicine in 1902, received his doctorate in 1906, became chef de laboratoire in 1909, in 1911 chef de clinique, and professeur agrégé in 1913. He became médecin des hôpitaux in 1919 and subsequently worked as Médecin chef at the Hôpital Necker. In 1927 he was appointed professor of hydrotherapy and climatology, and in 1939 clinical professor at the Broussais hospital.

His major research involvement was in the physiology of the circulation, with an especial interest in the portal circulation and the causes of portal hypertension which he investigated extensively with Gilbert. He undertook pathological studies on cirrhosis in man, and that produced experimentally in animals. He was especially interested in vascular lesions of the brain and followed the traditional clinical investigators path of first a clinical observation, then the precise anatomical localisation of the lesion, next the application of experimental techniques to reproduce it in animals, thus allowing a better clinical interpretation of a defined problem.

Villaret recognised the social aspects of the sick and established a rehabilitation centre for patients under his care, as well as organising social workers to help patients in their re-adaptation to life following their illness. He was an ideal combination of the clinician and the experimental physiologist.

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