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International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
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        VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1 • March, 2024.  Full issue »

French Republic knights MDS Past-President

Neurological honors are regularly bestowed on members of the MDS, but a rare and culturally interesting Knighthood has recently been awarded to one of MDS’s senior members, Dr. Christopher G. Goetz, MD.   

L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques is one of a very few French knighthood societies with origins dating to the era of Napolean (1808). This national society honors, at the official governmental level, academicians who have “fostered and expanded consideration of the French culture.” The Order was originally established with only French members, but Napolean III opened the society to occasional non-French nominees in 1866. Today, academics from a global roster of professions are members, although the unusual designation of a US physician and neurologist is of particular note.  

According to Dr. Goetz’s research, the process of nomination and election follows a highly private and undisclosed protocol that begins at a local Consulate or national Embassy. After this vetting, colleagues are invited to contribute letters of recommendation on behalf of the nominee before the full application is presented to the French government, followed by a vote that is ratified by the Prime Minister. After notification, the new Chevalier or Knight is inducted in a private ceremony where a medal is bestowed for wearing at future formal occasions.    

“This honor came as a total surprise, but is a cherished award,” said Dr. Goetz, a Past-President of MDS and Professor of Neurological Sciences, Professor of Pharmacology at Rush University, Chicago, IL, USA.  

Dr. Goetz has spent much of his career working with French colleagues, originally at the Collège de France with an NIH Training Grant and Fulbright Senior Research grant in the 1980s, followed by years of continued work with scientists and clinicians at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. He has also spent years working in historical studies of French neurology and, with two international colleagues, wrote the definitive biography of Jean-Martin Charcot (Oxford University Press).   

In reflecting on the many French colleagues who helped him at every level of his career, Dr. Goetz especially appreciates the support of Jacques Glowinski, Michel Hamon, Jean-Louis Signoret, Michel Bonduelle, Olivier Rascol, Jean-Christophe Corvol, and Bruno Dubois.


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