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Décès de Bernard Jacrot, premier directeur français de l'ILL

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Bernard Jacrot, ILL's first French director, passes away



It is with great sadness that we announce the death, in his eighty-ninth year, of Bernard Jacrot, the first French director of the ILL.

Bernard Jacrot graduated from France's École Polytechnique with an Ingénieur degree in biophysics and a doctorate in physics. He joined the CEA as an engineer and became head of the CEA's solid-state physics department. As early as 1962 he became an enthusiastic and energetic supporter of the project to create a Franco-German neutron research centre, which was finally to emerge as the ILL. It was only natural that he should become the ILL's first French director in 1967, in a tandem arrangement with Prof. Heinz Maier-Leibnitz. His mandate as director ended in September 1973, during the period of the second German director, Prof.Rudolf Mössbauer.

As a neutron expert later specialising in biology, Bernard Jacrot was the ideal advocate for the use of neutrons in biological research. With the young scientists he had attracted around him (including Joe Zaccai at the time) he forged a new discipline which continues to this day: the work of the  LSS and Life Sciences groups, of the IBS and the PSB, provide thriving examples. After a period in Cambridge at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology he became director of the EMBL's Grenoble outstation - and the ILL's neighbour -  from1980 to 1990.

Between 2004 and 2006 he wrote a personal and passionate account of the early years of the ILL, in which of course he played a major role. His book "Des neutrons pour la science"  clearly illustrates what he considered to be "one of the first examples of highly successful scientific cooperation between European nations". We owe Bernard Jacrot immense gratitude for this major work of recollection, a precious archive for ILL.

ILL owes a huge amount to Bernard Jacrot. Both Management and the staff pay heart-felt tribute in his memory and offer their condolences to his family and friends.