Pierre Piganiol died in Paris on 27 January 2007 having just celebrated his 92nd birthday. For all those who knew him, who are interested in research policy and, more generally, in the future of the planet and of humanity, his death is a huge loss.
He was a graduate in chemistry of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and spent much of his life engaged in research, especially from 1947 for the Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, from which he was seconded from 1958 to 1961 to be délégué général for scientific and technological research. At the specific request of General de Gaulle, he chaired the Consultative Committee on Scientific and Technological Research (CCRST), which he quickly transformed into the General Directorate for Scientific and Technological Research (DGRST), an interministerial body focusing on promoting scientific and technological research and aiming to make the scientific community more closely involved in resolving general national problems. This was well before France had a Ministry of Research and it was, in many respects, an institution that very usefully and effectively played a pioneer role in this area in France.
He had no ambition to hold power, but was endowed with great intelligence and vitality. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge and was immensely generous with his gifts. He worked tirelessly in the cause of scientific progress in the service of society. He was chairman of the board of directors of the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) from 1965 to 1972, as well as of many other bodies, and he was also president of Futuribles International from 1972 to 1976, and appointed me as head of the association.
This remarkable man, driven by exceptional curiosity and intellectual rigour, played an extremely important role in France and in many international institutions, as well as in various associations such as the Mouvement universel pour la responsabilité scientifique (MURS). Also, of course, he made a great contribution to developing Futuribles International and to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. His farsightedness and his extraordinary competence were matched only by his kindness and modesty.
He was a master and a friend, and I cannot think of him without remembering also his wife, Monique, for together they embodied a harmonious and unquenchable desire for the progress by and of humankind.
Pierre-Frédéric Ténière-Buchot, who was fortunate to work with Pierre Piganiol in many different circumstances, as I did, pays tribute to him here.