Marie-Germaine Bousser, MD, trained in the Paris Sorbonne medical faculty and graduated as a neuro-psychiatrist in Pitié-Salpêtrière in 1972. She chose neurology and she spent one year at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, in London, working closely with the neuro-vascular team, particularly with Dr. Ralph Ross Russell. She came back to Paris and became Professor of Neurology at Salpêtrière in 1981. In 1989 she became head of the Neurology department in Saint-Antoine hospital and vice-dean of Saint-Antoine Medical Faculty. In 1997 she moved to Lariboisière hospital where she became head of the neurology department and Professor of Neurology at the Saint Louis Lariboisière faculty. She is now Emeritus Professor of Neurology in Paris-Diderot University and honorary head of the neurology department in Lariboisière Hospital.
Honors and awards
1997 Harold Freedman Award
1997 Paul Dudley White International Lecturer
2000 Grand prix Claude Bernard de la Ville de Paris
2001 Sol Sherry Award
2008 European Stroke Conference Johann Jacob Wepfer Award
2010 Doctor Honoris Causa, Liège University
2010 Stroke Society of Australasia Award
2012 European Federation of Neurological Societies Award
2012 World Stroke Organisation Award
2016 Daniel C. Gainey Named Visiting Professorship, Mayo Clinic
2016 Karolinska Stroke Award
She is Commandeur dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur (2013) and Grand officier dans l’Ordre du Mérite (2018)
After her MD thesis devoted to the prevention of cortical artery thrombosis in rabbits by aspirin and PGE1, MG Bousser’s research has always been clinically orientated and has mainly dealt with cerebrovascular diseases and with headache, migraine in particular. She was the principal investigator of the French AICLA study (1975-1983), the second clinical trial ever to demonstrate the efficacy of aspirin in the secondary prevention of cerebral infarction and the first to show a benefit in women. This finding triggered her interest in the problem of stroke in women, a widely neglected issue at that time. MG Bousser has led other several stroke prevention trials. She also has a long interest in unusual varieties of cerebrovascular diseases such as cerebral venous thrombosis, cervical artery dissections and reversible vasoconstriction syndrome. Her team was the first to show a statistical association between migraine with aura and cerebral infarction in young women, particularly if they smoked or used oral contraceptives.
MG Bousser’s most important scientific achievement has been the identification, in collaboration with her geneticist co-worker Elisabeth Tournier-Lasserve, of a new Mendelian variety of stroke. Starting with the investigation in 1976 of one French patient who had lacunar infarcts in the absence of arterial hypertension, they studied 57 members of his family and found that several of them were affected by a small vessel disease of the brain. This led in 1993 to the mapping of the responsible gene on chromosome 19 and to the suggested acronym: CADASIL (Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy with Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy). Three years later, in 1996, their co-worker, Dr. Anne Joutel, was able to study 33 French families and to identify the responsible gene, Notch3. CADASIL has since then been recognised as the most frequent hereditary small vessel disease of the brain (SVDB), the best model of vascular dementia and a unique tool to study migraine with aura, present as the first manifestation in one third of patients. MG Bousser’s team never ceased to work on CADASIL. Her co-workers, including her successor Pr. Hugues Chabriat, and Anne Joutel are worldwide leaders in the field of CADASIL and SVDB research, respectively in clinical aspects and in basic science. This has led to a better understanding of the clinical manifestations of SVDB, to the gene identification of other hereditary SVDB and to the generation of animal models of CADASIL allowing mechanistic studies, paving the way for future therapeutic trials in CADASIL and in sporadic SVDB.