Professor Jacques-Emile Dubois PhD MRSC


13 April 1920 - 2 April 2005

Jacques-Emile Dubois, Father of the DARC System, is no more.

Jacques-Emile Dubois, Emeritus Professor at the University Paris VII, died of cancer in Paris on the 2 April 2005 in his 85th year. Man of action, immensely talented scientist and humanist, attentive and open to others, Jacques-Emile Dubois will leave the image of a scientist at the service of his country, who forced respect by his competence, his passion in action, his determination and his dynamism. Physicist and chemist by training, he promoted multi-disciplinarity and excelled in numerous scientific fields to which his rich life bears witness; an example for many.

Born on the 13 April 1920 in Lille, Ph.D. in Physical Sciences in 1947 in Grenoble, Jacques-Emile Dubois began his career as scientific adviser to the Cultural attaché of the French Embassy in London from 1948 to 1950. Very active in the French Resistance in Grenoble, his university career began as Reader in Chemistry at the University of Grenoble, then Professor of Physical Chemistry and Petrochemistry at the University of the Saar  (1949-57), he was Founding Director of the Trilingual Chemistry Institute of that University, then Dean of the Science Faculty there (1953-57). Back in France in 1957, he had the Chair of Physical Organic Chemistry at the Science Faculty in Paris, later the University Paris VII, until 1988 when he continued his activity as Emeritus Professor.

In 1962, he was called to the Ministry of National Education as Scientific Adviser in the Cabinet of Christian Fouchet (1962-63), then became Deputy Director of Higher Education (1963-65), before taking on the position of Director of Research for Defence (DRME) (1965-77).

He assumed many national and international responsibilities, both in public service and in civil society: President of the French Physical Chemistry Society (1974-76), Director of the Biology Division of the Curie Institute (1977-80), member of the Board and of the Directorate of the National Science Research Centre (CNRS) (1965-77) and of the Office of Scientific and Technical Research (ORSTOM) (1963-75), Member of the Scientific Council of the Atomic Energy Commissariat (CEA) (1971-77), Board member of the Palace of Discovery Museum (1961-77), Member of the High Council of Universities (1980-82), Vice-President of the National Centre of Chemical Information (1973-90), Scientific Director of the General Electricity Company (CGE) (1979-1983), Founding Director in 1958 of the Physical Organic Chemical Laboratory that, in 1977, became the Institute of Topology and Systems Dynamics (ITODYS), President of the Interdivisional Committee of Machine Documentation of IUPAC (1969-77), Vice President of CODATA (1981-88), President of CODATA/ICSU (1994-98), then of CODATA France (2000-).

In 1993, he was co-founder, with Admiral Lacoste, and Vice President, of the Centre of Scientific Defence Studies (CESD) of the University of Marne-la-Vallée.

Jacques-Emile Dubois was a pioneer of informatics applied to chemistry, in particular by the use of mathematical tools for coding organic compounds; he used the graph theory to propose a coherent ordering system. In 1965, he invented the DARC Topological System (Documentation and Automated Research of Correlations), a structural search system of chemical formulas, with organic compounds coded via matrices and the vectorial representation of Topological-property-reactivity correlations. Among other things, his System is used for similarity searches in chemical structures throughout the organic compound data bases, by the pharmaceutical industry to search for new molecules and to predict their properties, and in data bases for patent research of chemical formulas (Markush DARC system, first commercialised by INPI-Questel).

He is the author of numerous scientific publications (over a 1000 articles and lectures given in International Symposia) in fast kinetics, thermodynamics and chemical informatics; he also edited a number of scientific books, primarily in the field of scientific and technological information.

Jacques-Emile Dubois received many scientific awards: Ramsay Fellow at University College London (1949), laureate of the French Academy of Sciences, of the French and Belgian Chemical Societies, of the Grand Prize of the City of Paris (1975) for the development of the DARC System for Chemical Informatics, Grand Prize of graphic animation for a film at the Festival of Angers (1985), Dr. Honoris Causa of the University of Regensburg, Germany and of Kyushu University, Japan. In 1992, he received the Skolnik Award of the American Chemical Society.

He was awarded the French Resistance Medal and was Commander of the Legion of Honour, the National Order of Merit, the Academic Palms and several foreign Orders. He also received the Aeronautics Medal. 

Jacques-Emile Dubois devoted his life to serving an ideal, that of science in all its aspects. He was one of those renowned scientific explorers on the frontiers of several areas, who helped develop the information society of tomorrow.

Professor Roger Parsons DSc CChem FRSC FRS


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