Current professional status
Very brief. After having graduated in Physics from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB; Brussels; 1968), I obtained my PhD thesis at this university in 1976. Then, after having performed my military duties, I was in 1977 enrolled by the VUB as member of its “Central Academic Staff” - I was assigned a position at the Central Library. I changed job in 1983, to get involved again with NMR - I was hired by the university hospital (Hôpital Erasme) of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) to set up its MRI Unit. I was promoted Director of this Unit in 1989. By the end of 1995, I left Hôpital Erasme (and Belgium) to deal merely with science, within INSERM (France). I was recruited INSERM Director of research in January 1996 and got affiliated with its U438 laboratory (Grenoble; Dir. M. Décorps). There, I initiated and developed human applications of MR spectroscopy and functional MRI. In October 2001, at Michel Décorps’ retirement, I took over direction of the U438 laboratory. I became Director of a new INSERM laboratory (U594) in 2003. In January 2007, this laboratory joined the “Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences (GIN)”, created at that time as INSERM Research Centre. At this occasion, the laboratory was split up into two components, a research team (“Functional and Metabolic Neuroimaging”) and the Animal MRI Facility. I was Director of both components till the end of 2010 and 2009, respectively.
PhD thesis (1968–1976). My PhD thesis (“Thermodynamics of Spin Systems in Solids: Pulse Techniques in Pure NQR Spectroscopy”) was done at the Laboratory for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) of the Department for Physics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Jean JEENER was supervisor. Thermodynamics of nuclear spin systems and quantum mechanics (density matrix formalism) were applied to predict various aspects of pulsed NMR spectroscopy in the case of pure quadrupolar resonance of spins 3/2: reponses to radiofrequency (RF) pulses for quasi-equilibrium states corresponding to quadrupolar or to dipolar order, efficacies of transfer of quadrupolar order into dipolar order by means of pairs of RF pulses. Theoretical predictions were verified on the quadrupolar resonance of 35Cl in NaClO3 monocrystals. Experiments required designing and building an NMR spectrometer, its interfacing with a mini-computer (a primer at that time!) and developing dedicated algorithms and software to enable online correction of the quadrupolar signals for various instrumental imperfections.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (1977-1983). Following my military duties (1976-1977) I was enrolled by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and assigned a position (“Central Academic Staff”) at the Central Library of this University. I had three major duties: a. Contributing to the analysis and the development of an extensive software package ("VUBIS") aimed at automating the various activities of a Central Library. This software package, today still being developed and commercialised, is in operation in several hundred university and public libraries in the world; b. Creation and management of a department for online information retrieval. This department was the first of its kind in Belgium and one of the earliest in Europe; c. Direction of the Library of Sciences and Applied Sciences. Within the frame of these activities, I was appointed Associate Professor (1983) at the University of Antwerp (Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen, UIA) for teaching (55h yearly) in an inter-university postgraduate program entitled “Documentary and Library Sciences”.
Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles (1983-1995). The Université Libre de Bruxelles having appealed to me to set up and to direct an MRI Unit at its academic hospital (Hôpital Erasme), I resigned my jobs at VUB and UIA and was recruited by this Hospital in May 1983. Initially appointed as “physicist in charge” of the MRI Unit, I became formally its Director in 1989. Installation of the MRI equipment being scheduled only during autumn 1984, I took this opportunity to get initiated into the biomedical applications of NMR in the USA - I spend 12 months (1983/1984) at the Department of Neuroradiology (Director S.Hilal) of the Presbyterian Medical Center, Columbia University, NYC where I got progressively insight into the neuroradiological applications (a.o. sodium MRI) of high-field MRI (1.5T at that time!) and where I participated actively on preclinical studies on the cat brain (sodium spectroscopic MR imaging at 4.7T). Back in Brussels, besides the mere clinical duties, I progressively developed autonomous research activities, along two lines. The first, mainly clinical, dealt with MRI: Development, optimisation and evaluation of MR pulse sequences for improving radiological diagnosis. The second, at the interface between clinical applications and more fundamental sciences, dealt with in vivo MR spectroscopy: Development of MR acquisition methods aimed at obtaining localized spectroscopic data from the human liver (31P MRS) and brain (31P and 1H MRS) and assessment of the diagnostic potential of these methods.
INSERM U318 – “Preclinical Neurosciences” (1993-1994) and U438 – “Bioclinical NMR” (1995–2002). This period slightly overlaps the preceding one. Overlap corresponds to several stays that I made at INSERM laboratories in Grenoble while I was still Director of the MR Unit at Hôpital Erasme. Stays took place initially at the INSERM U318 laboratory (Director A.L.Benabid; GARN team [“Groupe des Applications de la RMN”] led by M.Décorps), and, subsequently, as soon as it had been created, at the INSERM U438 unit (Director M.Décorps). Stays had been made possible by a sabbatical leave of one year (1993-1994) followed by a half-time leave of absence (1994-1995) that had been granted to me by Hôpital Erasme. During the sabbatical year, I had been appointed Associate Professor at the Université Joseph Fourier (5 months) and I obtained an INSERM grant (“Poste Orange”; 7 months). During the half-time leave of absence, I was once more appointed Associate Professor at the Université Joseph Fourier (6 months, being awarded the “Chaire Municipale de la Ville de Grenoble”) and I obtained a grant (Bourse d’Accueil « Personnalité Étrangère ») from the Région Rhône-Alpes. I quitted my position at Hôpital Erasme on January 1, 1996, date corresponding to my recruitment as INSERM Director of Research and to my affiliation with the INSERM U438 laboratory. In the latter, I created and led the “Functional MRI” team. I thus have had the privilege to contribute to establishing a regional network of activities in the field of functional MRI and to play a key role in the setting up of a regional facility for functional and metabolic MRI (two research-dedicated whole-body imagers, a 3T system in Grenoble and a 1.5T system in Lyon). Following Michel Décorps’ retirement (october 2001), I took over direction of the INSERM U438 laboratory till the end of the four-year term.
INSERM U594 – “Functional and metabolic neuroimaging” (2003-2006). I created and directed this laboratory. Its general objectives were the development of functional and metabolic MR neuroimaging methods and their use in the preclinical, clinical and cognitive neurosciences. Pre-clinical applications were performed on rodents, using dedicated small-animal MRI systems. Clinical and cognitive studies on human were performed using a research-dedicated 3T whole-body scanner. Major themes were MR imaging of brain microvasculature (perfusion, blood volume fraction, vessel size index, capillary permeability, blood oxygenation), proton MR spectroscopy of the brain and functional MRI. Main physiopathologies studied were cerebral tumours, cerebral ischemia, post-traumatic cerebral edema and epilepsy. Also neuron-glia interactions in energy metabolism were studied using two model systems – bee retina and the vagus nerve of the rat. During this term, funds were collected that have permitted replacing the outdated animal MRI scanners by two new systems (4.7T and 7.0T).
GIN / Team “Functional and metabolic neuroimaging” (2007-2010). As mentioned higher up, U594 laboratory joined the “Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences (GIN)” in January 2007. At that occasion, U594 laboratory was split up into two components, a research team (“Functional and Metabolic Neuroimaging”) and the Animal MRI Facility. I was Director of both components till the end of 2010 and 2009, respectively. General objectives of the research team were unchanged with respect to those of U594. During this term, funds were collected that have permitted completing the Animal MRI facility of the GIN with a 3T whole-body scanner with the view of enabling in-house experiments on non-human primates.