We are deeply saddened to inform you of the death of
Professor Jean-Jacques Merland, MD (9.2.1942 – 17.5.2023)
With him, a pioneering spirit, an extraordinary medical doctor, and a supportive teacher is leaving. With him, a part of our own professional life is leaving too.
He marked his time with alertness, focus, creativity, meticulousness, and patience. He was one of the founding fathers of Interventional Neuroradiology. Besides being an outstanding clinician and technician, he had an extraordinary personality. He was a charismatic and incredible humanist, entirely dedicated to the patient and their families. With this in mind, he worked to share knowledge. A student of René Djindjian, he created the “Lariboisière” school, welcoming doctors from around the world to train in interventional neuroradiology. He created a gentle, engaged culture that did not hoard knowledge but shared it openly. The students who spent time with him came away kinder, better people and more deeply engaged clinicians.
Very early on he saw the potential of the endovascular treatment of stroke to revolutionize patient outcomes. Professor JJ Merland was curious about everything and integrated technology, techniques, and clinical experience from other specialties to advance the management of complex neurovascular diseases. He knew how to bring together multidisciplinary teams to advance the understanding of pathologies such as aneurysms, AVMs and AV Fistula. He supported the development of classifications of vascular anomalies, always with an eye toward better therapeutic management.
His expertise extended beyond interventional neuroradiology, into peripheral interventional radiology. He led the way in endovascular treatment for renal and pulmonary hemorrhages, and especially in the endovascular treatment of life-threatening post partum hemorrhages and fertility sparing interventions for uterine fibroids, to mention just a few techniques.
He knew how to instill in his team the desire to break new ground and yet he would step aside when it came time to publish, leaving his students as the first authors.
As students of Professor JJ Merland, we are deeply grateful to him for inspiring our medical practice, both ethically and technically, and shaping our professional environment through the friendships that developed within this school.
Ironically, Professor JJ Merland had to stop his clinical activity much too early due to an acute cerebral artery occlusion in 1996, but by then he had already laid the foundations for the first intracranial endovascular treatments. He had the vision to predict the need for stroke intervention but unfortunately, he suffered his stoke ten years before the first mechanical thrombectomy device was available. This handicap did not prevent him from continuing to follow with great interest the subsequent developments in the world of INR and showing his caring and pride in his former students.
JJ Merland had a unique energy. There is a word in philosophy that captures this concept of a personal energy called qualia. This word is intended to encapsulate the concept that we as sentient beings have intellectual activity, consciousness, being, that is more than the sum of our physical or mechanical parts. Isaac Newton said energy cannot be created or destroyed. JJ Merland had an energy that defined him. The energy which made him unique, persists when we hear his voice in our head or think of his image or actions or teaching. JJ Merland’s unique energy has diffused into the people that he loved and interacted with, into his family, and us, his pupils. We will pass it on to our pupils.
He left us on Mai 17 after a difficult last few months. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Marie-France, and his family.
Jean-Jacques Merland’s students