Alain Pompidou

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Alain Pompidou (born April 5, 1942 in Paris, France [1][2]) is a French scientist and politician. A former professor of histology, embryology and cytogenetics, he was the fourth president of the European Patent Office (EPO) from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007. He is the adopted son of Georges Pompidou, former President of France.


Professor of histology, embryology and cytogenetics (1974-2004)[edit]

He took doctorates in medicine, biology and science. From 1974 to 2004, he was professor of histology, embryology and cytogenetics in the medical faculty of the University of Paris. Until 2004 he was also director of the laboratory of the Cochin - St Vincent de Paul - La Roche Guyon Hospital in Paris, head of the cytogenetics and pathology department, and chairman of the hospital group's advisory board. He hold tenures at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.[citation needed]

He is also the author of numerous articles and monographs on science, ethics and society, as well as on biomedical ethics.[3]

Advisor for science policy and science ethics[edit]

Pompidou served on the consultative and scientific committee of numerous national, European and international organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO and the European Commission.[citation needed]

From 1990 to 2004, he was a member and founder of the French Academy of Technologies.

Between 1986 and 1997 he acted as a special adviser to the French prime minister, the minister of research and higher education and the minister of health.[citation needed]

He is also the author of Souviens-toi de l'homme: l'éthique, la vie, la mort (Payot, Paris, 1990).[4]

He was rapporteur of the subcommission on ethics of outer space activities of the World Commission on Ethics (COMEST) of the UNESCO, and he became a member, then vice-chair of COMEST in 2004. From 1999 to 2004, he served as a spokesman on research and space policy on the French Economic and Social Council. In 1999, he authored the joint report of UNESCO and the European Space Agency (ESA) about The Ethics of Space Policy.[5]

Member of the European Parliament (1989-1999)[edit]

As a member of the European Parliament from 1989 to 1999, he was particularly concerned with the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, with the preparation of the Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions ("gene patent directive"), and with bioethical issues as well as in innovation policy.

From 1994 to 1999 he was president of the European Parliament's Scientific and Technological Options Assessment, as well as President of the "Intergroupe Ciel et Espace Européen".

President of the European Patent Office (2004-2007)[edit]

In 2004, he was elected by the Administrative Council of the EPO as a result of a compromise. Although former presidents of the EPO held their post for at least seven years, Alain Pompidou was president for three years. He was succeeded by Alison Brimelow for an equal term. Alain Pompidou was the first Frenchman to hold the post of President of the EPO.

On June 30, 2004, i.e. the day before becoming president of the EPO, he and Albert-Claude Benhamou were granted EP 1358481 , filed on March 16, 2001, for a "Device for in situ analysis and/or treatment consisting of a flexible rod and a micro-system fixed at one end of said flexible rod".

As the first president of the EPO with a background that is not specific to intellectual property, his action aimed at making the Organisation more open and at raising awareness about the importance of patent policy, in particular among policy makers.[6]

The Saint Vincent de Paul Mortuary[edit]

Between 1990 and 2004 he was professor in charge of a number of medical services at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital, in Paris, where in 2005 a collection of 351 foetuses and still-born babies was discovered and he destroyed his inventions.

The Parquet de Paris (Paris Public Prosecutor's office) found that no violation of French criminal law had taken place. The relevant ministries decided to put the case to the so-called Disciplinary Commission (the competent jurisdiction regarding lecturers and hospital employees of university hospitals) which has reprimanded Pompidou.[7][8] Incurring a reprimand is extremely rare.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Personal web page, Detailed resume. Consulted on April 2, 2007.
  2. ^ European Parliament web site, MEP profile, Alain Pompidou. Consulted on April 2, 2007.
  3. ^ COMEST web site, COMEST Members: Alain Pompidou. Consulted on April 2, 2007.
  4. ^ (French) Souviens-toi de l'homme on Amazon: [1]
  5. ^ The Ethics of Space Policy, ESA/UNESCO/ECSL/COMEST, [2]
  6. ^ Joff Wild, European Patent Owners May Have Found Their Champion, ipFrontline web site, January 19, 2005.
  7. ^ (French) Cécile Prieur, Deux médecins blâmés dans l'affaire des fœtus de Saint-Vincent-de-Paul., Le Monde, August 3, 2006.
  8. ^ (French) Cabinet de Xavier Bertrand, Ministre de la santé et des solidarités (French Secretary of State for health), Affaire de la chambre mortuaire de l’hôpital Saint Vincent de Paul, Communiqué, Paris, August 2, 2006
  9. ^ (French) Eric Favereau, Blâme après l'affaire des foetus de Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Libération, August 3, 2006.

External links[edit]

Positions in intergovernmental organisations
Preceded by
Ingo Kober
President of the European Patent Office
Succeeded by
Alison Brimelow