Monday, 18 July 2016 12:10

Obituary: Professor Jules Traeger

Jules TraegerProfessor Jules Traeger has passed away at the age of 96, after an exceptional life, during which he tirelessly developed the nephrology practice he helped to create.

Born in Lyon on March 12, 1920, Traeger studied in the city’s Lycée Ampere then at the Faculty of Medicine. Named Resident in 1946, he went on to become Chief Assistant of Lyon Hospital in 1950 and was a lecturer in biochemistry in 1952. Then, in 1955, he moved to Cincinnati with Professor T. Addis and Professor C.D. West, Associate Professor of Medicine.

He was appointed Professor of Clinics in 1967 at the University Claude Bernard, where he created the Clinic of Nephrology and Metabolic Diseases at the Hôpital de L'Antiquaille then at the Hôpital Edouard Herriot, where he developed nephrology, dialysis, and transplantation at a level of international excellence, before retiring in 1986.

His scientific activity began with a Bachelor of Science in 1950 and a Diploma in Nuclear Medicine in Saclay in 1952. He created and directed the INSERM U80 from 1967 to 1984.

He was President of the French Society of Nephrology and Transplantation, the European Society of Dialysis and Transplantation (as were two of his fellows). In 1960, he contributed to creating the International Society of Nephrology.

Professor Jules Traeger was Emeritus Professor of Nephrology, corresponding member of the National Academy of Medicine and Doctor honoris causa of many universities worldwide. Among other distinctions, in December 2003, he received the Commander of the Legion of Honor. In 2004, he was awarded the Jean Hamburger Medal of the International Society of Nephrology and in 2011 the Belding Scribner Medal of the French Society of Dialysis.

Traeger embraced a wide range work within nephrology. This contributed to many innovations, he tirelessly sought ways of progressing, enriching the discipline with his strategic vision.

Among his countless contributions to adult and pediatric nephrology, he brought about advances in intensive care and nutrition, renal function tests, acute and chronic hemodialysis, renal transplantation. Moreover, he contributed to research on anti-rejection treatments with the discovery of the anti-thymocyte globulin in 1963, renal biopsy, renal imaging, biophysics, home dialysis in 1974 and founded the Association for the Use of Artificial Kidney in Lyon (AURAL).

As a determined promoter of therapeutic innovations, he became interested in the 80 to plasmapheresis and immuno-adsorption. After retiring in the 1990s, he successfully established daily hemodialysis. This innovative strategy has resulted in international thinking and new global clinical studies. Professor Traeger was behind the development of new dialysis machines adapted to daily dialysis, which today are available for patients. His reflections on daily dialysis also resulted in a reference book he published in April 2010.

All this research could not have been completed without the cooperation of employees and high-quality researchers, with which he surrounded himself. These include: Professors Paul Zech, Daniel Fries, Jean-Pierre Revillard, Jean-François Moskovtchenko, Michel Pellet, Maurice Carraz, Annick Pinet, Jean-Michel Dubernard, Jean-Louis Touraine, Guy Laurent, Herve Bethuel, Simone Colon, Nicole Pozet, Roula Galland, and many others.

Throughout this immense medical and scientific career, he built a contagious enthusiasm around him, attracting and training several generations of nephrologists and researchers. Seasoned in this “Lyon crucible of nephrology”, many swarmed to support the sick and in turn advance nephrology. This included: Daniel Fries, François Berthoux, Gérard Rifle, Patrice Deteix, Francis Ducret, Gérard Janin, Jean Maret, Jean Canarelli, Jean-Claude Trombert and more. Not to mention his many fellows and friends in Italy, the Middle East, Afghanistan, South America, Cambodia and Japan.

Welcome, listen, train, were constant values of his commitment to disseminating knowledge. Through countless scientific meetings and the famous International Course of Transplantation and Clinical Immunology, over 35 years he helped train nephrologists worldwide on the clinical and basic aspects of transplantation.

Among the first members of the National Commission of Hemodialysis and Transplantation, he played an invaluable role in treating kidney failure.

During this journey, he learned to innovate, organize, evaluate, build and always considered this as grounds to search, analyze, understand and improve. Searching for information and intelligence meant he was constantly alert, the innovators were always welcome. He would say: "Tell me about the future, I'm interested.”

Finally, as for the man behind the nephrologist, his apparent coldness was only modesty. Words were measured, but the blue eyes sparkled behind his glasses. He had a passion for technology. His thirst for knowledge was expressed through readings, music, meetings and trips. His loyalty was legendary. Patients, employees, friends, he liked to keep the memories through photography.

Professor Traeger was a curious man, demanding, loyal and endearing. He leaves a wife who accompanied him with intelligence and tireless dedication. We had the privilege to rub shoulders and, as friends, colleagues and students, patients, we keep a respectful remembrance and were moved by this brilliant mind.

This obituary was written by Maurice Laville, Guy Laurent, Nicole Pozet, Patrice Deteix, Pierre Cochat, Denis Fouque, Claude Guérin and Francis Ducret.

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