On Thursday 11th of June, 2009, Professor Jean Paul Thiery was honoured with the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour) at the French Embassy. Jean Paul has been received into the légion for "eminent merit" (mérites éminents) of his “forty years of outstanding contribution to science in his professional and associative (non-profit) activities”. The Order is the highest decoration in France, and French nationals are initially received in the légion to the class of chevalier (knight). In practice, the order is conferred to military leaders, entrepreneurs, high-level civil servants and sport champions.
With a background in chemistry and a fortuitous leap into molecular biochemistry, Jean Paul has had an extensive scientific career, and he reminisces about the past with engaging anecdotes from these influential years. Among his long list of accolades, Jean Paul was the driving force behind the discovery of N-CAM, he identified cell adhesion and migration mechanisms in neural crest cell development and its ties to invasive cancer, and he conceptualized the phenomena of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, or EMT. More recently, Jean Paul’s group combines biophysical, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches with advanced imaging techniques to study the mechanochemistry of cell adhesion and signalling in the EMT processes.
When asked how he feels about this honour, Jean Paul smiles, “I am proud to have been engaged in research for the last 41 years, and I am humbled and lucky to have interacted with some of the world’s most brilliant scientists”. While he is modest about the award, he candidly discusses the scientists whom he believes have helped shape his career, and he shares his stories of all the exceptional Nobel Laureates he has been privileged to meet and work with: Gerald Edleman, Francis Crick, Frederick Sanger, to name a few. But he attributes most of his success to his thought-provoking discussions with the French physicist and Nobel Laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who challenged and inspired him, particularly with their joint passion for the dynamics of cell adhesion.
IMCB congratulates Jean Paul on this prestigious honour.
Prof. Jean Paul THIERY’s website: http://www.imcb.a-star.edu.sg/php/jpt.php