Jean-Marc Jallon 

June 14th 1945 – September 17th 2019


It is with great sadness that the international biological science community received notice of the death of Emeritus Professor Jean-Marc Jallon. We fondly remember his jovial, convivial, but scientifically knowledgeable presence at meetings of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS). He served IUBS well, first elected to the Executive in 2004, becoming Vice President during 2007-2009 and Secretary General from 2009 to 2012. After his tenure, he remained a friend and mentor to IUBS, and was, I know, of great support to the IUBS Executive Director, Dr Nathalie Fomproix, until he passed away.

Jean-Marc began his career as a biochemist, gaining a masters degree from Ecole Normale Superieure in 1969. He continued in this discipline for his doctorate at the University of Paris, his thesis (1974) being “Structural changes of beef liver glutamate dehydrogenase and modulations of its catalytic activity”. A mark of his widespread expertise is illustrated through his postdoctoral studies, which included periods in the United States (University of Pennsylvania); Japan (University of Tokyo) and, not surprisingly, France (Centre de Génétique Moléculaire du CNRS-Gif sur Yvette).

His extensive background and knowledge in biochemistry was to serve him well in his research, which expanded to focus on the sexual and social behaviour of animals, especially insects. It is in this sphere that many will remember his contribution. Jean-Marc published more than 120 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. In the last few decades, he toured and lectured widely, in Africa, China and Southeast Asia.

A life in a secluded laboratory was not what marked this man. His legacy is embodied in his mentorship, and importantly his leadership in biological sciences, and this is what many of us will revere him for. In addition to his unwavering contribution to IUBS, spanning a period of almost two decades, Jean-Marc was a founding member of the re-established International Congress of Zoology (ICZ). After a very prolonged hiatus, the ICZ was readmitted to the biological sciences community in 2004, after which it evolved into the more embracing International Society of Zoological Sciences. Jean-Marc served ISZS well, becoming President in 2008. Vale Jean-Marc, a most valued, wise, thoughtful mentor and friend!


L’homme n’est qu’un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c’est un roseau pensant1.


John St J. S. Buckeridge FGS


(President IUBS 2007-2009, President ISZS 2004-2007).


1Man is only a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 (Pensées).