“Since my student years, my professional life has been punctuated by unexpected and sometimes traumatic events, throwing me off course and directing me towards a field of action that nothing could have prepared me for. While I intended on having a career as an obstetrician and settling in Brittany, abruptly I was sent to Berck, in the Nord of France, to become an orthopedic surgeon.
I spent thirty years there.
Living amongst the patients, most often children or adolescents, sharing their concerns, their anxieties, and also their hopes, I become passionate for the surgical treatment of spinal column deformations. At 50 years old, another destiny waited for me.
I had to end all professional activities for health reasons and was placed in a permanent state of disability. Pushed away from what had been the center and the environment of my daily activity, I accepted with difficulty this period of inactivity and total isolation.
Because I was alone and unoccupied, though not having neither the qualities nor the scientific or research training, nor the financial means to throw myself into an ambitious research program, but having acquired a certain concrete experience of the situation, I put myself back to work in a modest workshop in my Brittany house- my garage!
My project was to study the possibilities of improving the surgical treatment of spinal deviations. This research lasted three years and ended with the development of a new metallic implantable instrument. This “universal instrument”, as I first called it, allowed for a simultaneous correction of the deviation of the vertebral column and the consolidation of the straightened segment. Thanks to the stability of the assembly, it allowed patients to walk without plaster casts or corsets, until this point imposed for ten to twelve months after surgery.
Introduced in 1983 and developed in collaboration with professor Jean Dubousset and Doctor Michel Guillaumat, the concept and the technique of this new instrumentation was rapidly adopted by spinal surgeons around the world.
Today, many hundreds of thousands of patients of all ages, and for various reasons, have been operated on, using this instrumentation or its derivative. For the last fifteen years, this innovation has opened the route to continued progress in spinal surgery. At the dawn of the third millennium, there was still much to be done…
It is my desire to use the means that I have to further this research. It is the mission that I have been given. As I arrive at the end of my professional career, I’ve decided to create a Foundation for research in Spinal Pathology on both sides of the Atlantic.
I’ve met numerous doctors, surgeons, and researchers all over the world who selflessly invest their greatest humanistic and scientific qualities to improve the quality of the care for their patients. Their research programs don’t always have the possibility of receiving aid from large heath organizations or industrial companies that support projects only susceptible to generate economic returns. These valuable projects risk not being carried out because of lack of funds.
I entrust to my most distinguished colleagues and friends, united at the heart of the scientific council, the care to select and to grant aide to the promising research programs, to follow and promote them. I express to them my esteem and my gratitude. I dedicate this Foundation to my former patients.
I would like my patients today and tomorrow from here and afar to benefit from my medical and surgical colleagues in spinal research.
I would like to thank the chancellor of the Institute of France and the representatives of the five Academies who house this Foundation under the renowned auspices and prestige of the Institute of France.”
Paris, 23 January 1999