In Memoriam – Georges Salamon

salamon_obitGeorges Salamon, one of neuroradiology’s pioneers, early thought leaders, and international spokesmen died on October 10, 2015, at age 84. Born in Montpellier, France to a Russian father and a Polish mother of Jewish descent, he acutely experienced the traumas of World War II, but kept throughout his life a unique, optimistic spirit of adventure. Knowing the costs and benefits of the vicissitudes of life, Georges maintained an exceptional open-mindedness and a zest for change and new opportunities.

Receiving his Doctor of Medicine from the Faculty of Aix-Marseille in 1958, he was spurred into specialty training by his teachers, Herman Fischgold, Henri Gastaut, and Robert Naquet, graduating in radiology in 1962 and neurology in 1965. This dual experience in imaging and neuroscience provided the stimulus for Georges to enter the nascent field of Neuroradiology and the basis of a prestigious career bridging these disciplines. Post training, Georges quickly joined the Hôpital de la Timone in that “considerable town,” Marseille, first as assistant professor in 1964, and then as head of the Department of Neuroradiology from 1972 to 1996.

Though broadly curious and an eclectic thinker, Georges’ first scientific love was neuroanatomy. Between 1965 and 1970 his students’ numerous theses on cerebral vasculature formed the basis of and culminated in the publication of the Atlas of Arteries of the Human Brain in 1974, of Radiologic Anatomy of the Brain in collaboration with Y.P. Huang in 1978, and Vascularization and Cerebral Circulation with G. Lazorthes and A. Gill that same year. This work became the anatomic bible for a whole generation of neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons. It also served as a basis for the subsequent development of therapeutic angiography and the emergence in France of a new generation of vascular neuroradiologists under the joint stimulus of Georges Salamon and René Djindjian.

The cross-sectional microradiographs of injected brains emanating from the INSERM U6 laboratory that Georges founded in 1972 fascinated young neuroscientists everywhere. Thus in the 1970s and 1980s, close collaborations were established between Marseille and the United States, Sweden, and Japan. Stimulated by this research and its early clinical applications, residents, fellows, and full professors travelled to and from Marseille to participate in research projects, perfect their training, and share their angiographic know-how. Such ventures with Georges often held surprises, such as one American visitor who found himself unexpectedly responsible for fresh cadaveric material. Georges’ American colleagues listed in the 2006 ASNR Honorary Member summary reads like a Who’s Who of the ASNR, including Juan Taveras, Ernest Wood, Sadek Hilal, Gordon Potts, Norm Chase, Irv Kricheff, Norman Leeds, Paul New, Giovanni DiChiro, Hans Newton, Bill Hanafee, and Gabriel Wilson.

Neuroanatomy also underpinned the clinical applications of cross-sectional imaging, x-ray CT, and MRI as well as functional PET and MRI. In the mid 1990s, Georges brought together neuroimagers and his old Parisian friend and neurosurgical colleague, Jean Talairach, fostering the subsequent conversion of 1940s analogue paper images into the now pervasive digital atlases with Talairach co-ordinates. The Marseille school remained in the foreground, with his pupil, Charles Raybaud, one of the pioneers of pediatric neuroradiology, who succeeded him as head of the Neuroradiology Department at la Timone and is now the Chief of Pediatric Neuroradiology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Beginning in the 1970s, Georges Salamon encouraged formal national and international professional organizations: he was a founding member and president of the SFNR (Societe Francaise de Neuroradiologie) in 1970 and the ESNR (European Society of Neuroradiology) in 1972. International recognition was the fair return: in 1984 he was appointed Honorary Member of the ACR (American College of Radiology), in 1994 the RSNA (Radiological Society of North America), in 1995 the ESNR, in 2000 the Japanese Society of Radiology, and in 2006 the ASNR.

Though a tireless worker, Georges could have retired to satisfy other passions such as sailing on “Chipie,” his boat on which he invited his many friends, or contemporary art and painting. He was, from 1989 to 1995, President of the Association of the Museums of Marseille. A visit with Georges to “La Vieille Charite” in Marseille or the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles was a delight.

Instead, in character, at age 62, Georges became engaged in a wonderful new life through a “chance encounter” with Noriko Murayama, then a visiting fellow from Japan. Noriko Salamon-Murayama has since been his most charming and deeply caring wife for the past 22 years and is now Professor of Neuroradiology at UCLA. Though always a Frenchman, Georges had long expressed a special fondness for the United States and this unexpected winter/spring relationship sealed his cross-Atlantic destiny. Together Georges and Noriko settled in the United States. Her interests in academic neuroradiology and his reasoned enthusiasm for the new imaging techniques and expertise in neuroscience led them first to Chicago, where he was Research Professor at Northwestern University with Eric Russell from 1996 to 2002, and then to Los Angeles where he was a Researcher at UCLA with Dieter Enzmann.

It was Georges’ pleasure to return regularly to France to see his family, and to participate again in the stimulating, lively annual Val d ‘Isère Course on “CT, MRI, and Ultrasound,” which he had created in the 1970s and of which he was particularly proud. One American speaker vividly remembers being handed a carousel of slides on the sella turcica 30 minutes before the session and being instructed by Georges to present his talk, in French, so he, Georges, could show the speaker’s teenaged daughter the slopes of Val d’Isère. The young lady was, of course, enchanted by Georges, and remains so to this day. Such was life around Georges, often unpredictable, but always invigorating.

A marvelous career: passionate researcher, intuitive investigator, galvanizing lecturer, with unbounded joie de vivre — that was Georges Salamon. He is survived by his wife Noriko, sisters Marguerite and Yvonne, his brother Roger, his children Christopher, Marie Hélène, and Ivan, and his 8 grandchildren. The ASNR and our sister neuroradiology societies around the world offer our most sincere condolences to his family and friends. Georges, tu vas nous manquer, mais nous ne t’oublierons pas; we will miss you, but we will not forget you.

Claude Manelfe
Professor Emeritus
University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse

Nick Bryan
Professor Emeritus
University of Pennsylvania

Charles Strother
University of Wisconsin

In Memoriam – Georges Salamon