Charles Babinet (1939-2008)

Charles Babinet at the TT2007 Meeting, Brisbane, February 2007

Prof. Charles Babinet (in Brisbane, February 2007)

It is with great sadness that we have just learnt of the sudden death of our colleague, outstanding scientist, ISTT Honorary Member, ISTT Prize awardee and friend Prof. Charles Babinet. He died in Paris on February 13, 2008 in the age of only 68.

With the exception of a one year stay at the New York University, in Prof. J. Hurwitz’s lab, between 1962-1963, Charles Babinet spent most of his scientific career at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. He had worked with Prof. François Jacob at the Microbial Genetics Unit where he got his PhD in 1970, on studies about the RNA polymerase of E.coli . Since 1971 he became interested in investigating early mouse embryo development, and, because of that, he was exposed and mastered himself all types of genetic modification that could be applied in mice to produce genetically modified mice. He was among the first scientists in Europe producing transgenic mice.

As a developmental biologist he contributed with numerous scientific publications to the field. Since 1990 he became interest in embryonic stem cells and their ability to differentiate into all cell-types found in the body of an organism, a topic to which he devoted all his last years in research.

Charles Babinet had been in close touch with the Transgene Technology meetings pioneered by Johannes Wilbertz since the early years. He was part of the first committees nominating candidates for the Prize of Transgene Technologies. At the last TT2007 Meeting, organised by Elizabeth Williams, he was awarded the 5th genOway Prize for Transgene Technology and ISTT Honorary Membership for his scientific contributions to the field of mammalian transgenesis in Brisbane (Australia). In her TT2007 Meeting report Kristina Vintersten summarised the splendid and most enjoyable talk he delivered about his life in research illustrated with some of his papers and experiences in the field of mammalian transgenesis: “The audience was mesmerized by a wonderful presentation that the speaker himself called A journey through the fascinating world of mouse functional genetics-. Professor Babinet showed us a number of historical photographs from the very early days of pre-implantation embryo manipulation, and the message he delivered about the issues surrounding ‘‘ no obvious phenotype ’’ will surely stay in our memory.

Charles Babinet award 2007Charles Babinet awarded the 5th Prize on Transgene Technology

In September 24, 2007, his colleagues of the Department of Developmental Biology of the Institut Pasteur, organised a tribute meeting in recognisition of his life in research. The meeting was most adequately entitled: “Charles Babinet: from embriology to programmed genome modifications. 40 years of friendship and science“.

Charles Babinet was a scientist with a career full of success and enthusyasm that he transmitted to all his colleagues that had a chance to work with and/or learn from him. He was well known for his very stimulating and constructive discussions about almost any topic in Science, but also beyond scientific topics.

This is a deeply and most regrettable felt lost. We all shall remember him as a very nice person and a most generous scientist that contributed extensively to the development of the animal transgenesis field.

Those who got to know him personally will deeply miss him.

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