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Obituary: Bernard Jacrot

Bernard Jacrot, who was Head of EMBL Grenoble from 1980 to 1989, passed away on 21 January 2016 at the age of 89.

Bernard Jacrot in the late 1960s. IMAGE: ILL
Bernard Jacrot in the late 1960s. IMAGE: ILL

Jacrot’s appointment as Head of EMBL Grenoble in 1980 brought him from Cambridge – where he had been at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology – back to the campus where he had been Director of the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) a decade earlier.

A biophysicist with a keen interest in applying neutron science to biology, Jacrot was ideally placed to lead the Outstation at this time. EMBL had just established its labs next to the ILL reactor, and under Jacrot the two institutes signed a number of agreements that are still in place and which bear fruits to this day.

Under Jacrot, EMBL Grenoble reinforced its technology development and service functions, while building a tradition of strong in-house research – including Jacrot’s own structural studies of viruses.

Bernard was demanding and human, and knew how to bring out the best in his staff

Alongside his scientific contributions, Jacrot authored two books that reflect his passion for two core values that he shared with EMBL: interdisciplinarity and international collaboration. Neutrons for science describes the history of ILL as an example of the latter, while Physics and Biology explores the links that can be made between these two sciences.

“Bernard was both demanding and human, and knew how to bring out the best in his staff,” says Joseph Sedita from EMBL Grenoble Facility Management. “After leaving the outstation, he’d regularly come back to visit us, and left nothing but good memories.”

EMBL pays tribute to those memories and offers condolences to Jacrot’s family and friends.

Tags: Alumni, Grenoble

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