Journal of Thoracic Oncology:
Westeel, Virginie MD, PhD; Quoix, Elisabeth MD; Pujol, Jean-Louis MD, PhD; Milleron, Bernard MD, IFCT
Chest Department, University Hospital, Besançon, France
Cardio-Thoracic Department, University Hospital, Strasbourg, France
Thoracic Oncology Department, Montpellier Academic Hospital, Montpellier, France
French Thoracic Oncology Group (IFCT), Paris, France
Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Address for correspondence: Jean-Louis Pujol, MD, PhD, Thoracic Oncology Department, Montpellier Academic Hospital, Hôpital Arnaud de Villeneuve, 34295 Montpellier Cedex, France., E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Alain Depierre died in Besançon, France, on 14 August, 2013. For 10 years, he had waged a hard-fought battle against cancer, applying the positive and innovative vision he had, himself, developed of the disease to what he was personally undergoing, before ultimately succumbing at 72 years of age. Dr. Depierre was a leading expert in the field of thoracic oncology, and a member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer for more than 30 years.
Dr. Depierre completed his postgraduate degree in Paris, where he held his first positions at several university hospitals (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris [AP-HP]) under the guidance of Dr. Lucien Israël. In 1978, he was nominated Professor of Pulmonology at the University of Franche Comté, Besançon. During his time there, he created a department of thoracic oncology and organized multidisciplinary care for lung cancer patients. Throughout his professional life, he was committed to developing clinical research, convinced of the importance of evidence-based medicine, first on a local, then national, and finally international scale, and always displayed extreme rigor and a good sense of innovation. From his first participation with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) lung cancer group, he went on to become one of the founders of the Groupe Coopérateur en Oncologie Thoracique, then one of the founders of the Intergroupe Francophone de Cancérologie Thoracique (IFCT) in 1999. The latter is now a cooperative group encompassing more than 200 French centers involved in clinical and translational research in thoracic oncology, specialized teaching institutions, cancer centers, and community hospitals. Dr. Depierre conducted many phase I to III studies in lung cancer, and published around 170 peer-reviewed articles on the topic, with particular focus on vinorelbine from early development to registration. A strong believer in the importance of preoperative chemotherapy for non–small-cell lung cancer, he designed the first large randomized trial of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in the early 1990s. He further investigated the concept of perioperative chemotherapy in another large phase III trial that included many translational analyses, the IFCT 0002 study, in which he took on the role of principal investigator.
In 2005, he retired from his post at the Chest Disease and Thoracic Oncology Department of Besançon University Hospital to pursue his lifelong commitment to clinical research, while continuing to contribute to the hospital as Director of the Clinical Research and Innovation Department until 2009. Throughout his remaining years he continued to actively participate, freely offering his expertise to the Regional Observatory of Health and generously contributing to the IFCT as Medical Director.
Enthusiastic and charismatic, he instilled his passion for thoracic oncology in many students, residents, and colleagues. He was, for several generations of thoracic oncologists, a true mentor, infecting others with his scientific curiosity and methodological rigor, always with simplicity, kindness, and a great deal of humanity. His wife, Brigitte, was always at his side, both supporting him in his professional life and joining him in his fight against the disease. He will be greatly missed, not only by his family and friends, but by the thoracic oncology community as a whole.