Lives of the fellows

Robert Charles Alphonse Pierret

b.18 May 1884 d.6 November 1960
MD Lyons( ) MRCP(1933) FRCP(1939)

The obituary oration on Robert Pierret at the Académie National de Médecine in Paris in 1960 said he represented the true fighting Gaul; he was a most impressive figure with a leonine head, blue eyes and long moustaches, a courageous man who had defied the disability of phlebitis following a bad wound in the First World War which forced him to walk with two sticks through his last forty years. With his wife, the daughter and sister of doctors, who matched him in height and beauty, he formed what was, in his day, described as ‘the handsomest couple in France’.

Pierret was the son of distinguished parents. His father, who had earlier been chef-de-clinique to Charcot at the Salpêtrière Hospital, was professor of neurology at Lyons; his mother was the sister of Sir Armand Ruifer, first president of the International Sanitary and Maritime Quarantine Board of Egypt, and first director of the Lister Institute. From 1920 he built up a large consulting paediatric practice in the spa of La Bourboule in the Massif Central, where he attracted many patients from England. As the ethics of French medicine confined his practice to La Bourboule he occupied his out-of-season months by attending the meetings of the Committee of the Office International d’Hygiene Publique in Paris, and acting as both interpreter and assistant to Surgeon-General Hugh Cumming, the United States delegate. Such was his success in dealing with its economic difficulties that he was appointed director-general of the Committee in 1937, and held this post under the German occupation in Paris and later at Royat, contriving to send valuable epidemiological information to the Allies.

His love for delicate children was shown in his foundation of the village of Villars-de-Lans, and his interest in the French Hospital in London in the care with which he selected French house officers for his brother who was its chairman. He was an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and of the Hunterian Society, and a Commander of the Legion of Honour. The Croix de Guerre was gained during the First World War. In 1919 he married Marcelle Yvonne Brousse, widow of M. Francezon. There were no children of the marriage.

Richard R Trail

[Bull. Acad. nat. Med. (Paris), 1961, 145, 72-4; Lancet, 1961, 1, 59.]

(Volume V, page 333)

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