Herbert Tuchmann-Duplessis, embryologist from Romania


Octobre 2012                    André J. Fabre

Herbert Tuchman-Duplessis (was born in Czernowitz (Chernivtsi), Bukovina.

Uprooted by the WW1, he arrived in France in 1929. His brother opted for general medicine, Herbert to medical research. After a PhD in Medicine in 1935 and a degree of Bachelor of Science the following year, he prepared a Thesis on experimental endocrinology, focused on tissue physiology.

A forced interruption : military service and 1939 war, kept Herbert away from laboratories . As reported by André Breton in his Memoirs, the war came as a shock for Herbert : "  On the afternoon where took place the declaration of war, I watched people from a window overlooking the courtyard of Fort Nogent The radio had just announced that hostilities would begin at five. Impossible  to detect any emotion across groups although the magnitude of the event, it was first a vague joy slowly growing among the men. More than an hour, five minutes. The rising rumor, evoked a school recreation... At the sight of such massive incomprehension, , the physician with whom I was watching the scene, yet certainly a touch man, began to weep [1]".

Herbert could only resume his scientific projects in 1941 when he enters in  Montpellier, the Histology laboratory of Pr. Jean Turchini, the most famous embryologists of the time in France.

Herbert  will present his medical after the war, in 1945, entitled "Experimental study of pituitary-endocrine correlations in the Triton. Hormonal determinism of secondary sexual characteristics."

Returning to Paris, Herbert obtained a post at the CNRS laboratory of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.

In 1946 he took part to the Agregation Examination in Histology. He was received at his  first examination, and will now focus his researches on embryology applied to the human species.

The tragedy of thalidomide in the late 1950s and of Seveso in 1976 demonstrated his expertise in assessment of drug risks in the embryo.

He had acquired French nationality in 1935 and was elected in 1970 to the Academy of Medicine (Section Biological Sciences)


[1] Citation from the Eulogy pronounced by Professor Georges David at the Académie de médecine  on March  12 2002 . André Breton's Memoirs, "Arcane 17",  have been published in 1999 by  Gallimard Ed. (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, tome 3 des œuvres complètes : texte (p. 35-111) et notice d'Étienne-Alain Hubert (p. 1161-1199)

Date de dernière mise à jour : 30/07/2013

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