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Jean François Marie Aicardi

Born 1926

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French paediatrician, born 1926, Rambouillet.

Biography of Jean François Marie Aicardi

Jean François Marie Aicardi studied at the Paris Medical School and became an Interne des Hôpitaux de Paris in 1951. During his internship he took a keen interest in neurology at the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière under Raymond Garcin (1897-1971), and in child neurology at the Hôpital des Enfants Malades in Paris under Stéphane Thieffry, who was the first paediatrician in France to dedicate himself entirely to child neurology. In the early 1950s, Aicardi was preparing his thesis on convulsive disorders in the first year of life and was impressed and fascinated by the works of Henri Jean Pascal Gastaut (1915-1995). He received his doctorate from the University of Paris in 1955.

Aicardi spent the years 1955-1956 as a research fellow at the Harvard Medical School and the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston. Here he had the opportunity to increase his knowledge of child neurology, and to discover the dynamic and rigorous style of American research, a process that he adopted for his own.

Returning to Paris, Aicardi became the paediatrician of the Department of Infantile Surgery at the Hôpital des Enfants Malades, where he remained until 1964 while continuing his interest in child neurology. He then worked as an assistant to Thieffry from 1964 to 1979 in the Department of Child Neurology at the Hôpital Saint Vincent de Paul. In 1968 he joined the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM). He returned with his team to the Hôpital des Enfants Malades in 1979 to create and run a new unit of child neurology, of which he is still in charge.

In 1970 Aicardi was invited to Oxford, England, by Ronald MacKeith (1908-1977) in order to participate in the first meeting of the European Study Group in Child Neurology, an exclusive group of The Spastics Society, an organisation that has played an important role in the development of child neurology in Europe. This group became the European Federation of Child Neurology
Societies in 1973 and has branches in most European countries.

Following his retirement in 1991, Aicardi became honorary professor of child neurology at the Institute of Child Health and honorary consultant at the Hospital for Sick Children, London. By March 1999 he was founding editor of the journal Epileptic Disorders (Miami, Florida).

Aicardi was awarded the Cornelia de Lange Medallion from the Dutch Society of Child Neurology in 1985 and the Hower Award from the American Child Neurology Society in 1986. In 1995 he received the Epilepsy research Award from the American Epilepsy Society.

Through his work, he has become known throughout the world. His scientific relations with foreign colleagues have turned into solid friendships, and a great number of patients and students have come to him from all parts of the world.

Aicardi's scientific works include more than 250 original papers, to say nothing of many guest lectures and papers he has given at international meetings or congresses. Approximately one-half of his works deal with childhood epilepsy, while many are devoted to brain malformations, progressive encephalopathies, and to almost every aspect of child neurology for example, acute encephalitis.

We thank Patrick Jucker-Kupper for information submitted.

This biography is mainly based on a biography of Jean Aicardi written by Jean-Jacques Chevrie in 1989.

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