James E. Rothman, 2013 Nobel Laureate and Yale Professor, was awarded the insignia of “Officer” in the French Legion of Honor by French Ambassador to the U.S., François Delattre, on April 4, 2014. Rothman received this award due to his impressive scientific achievements in the areas of cellular biology and his close collaboration with French laboratories.
Napoleon Bonaparte created the Legion of Honor, a French order that is divided into five degrees, in 1802 to reward extraordinary accomplishments and outstanding services rendered to France. Rothman received one of the highest degrees in the order, second to “Knight”, because of the advancements he and his associates in France have made in science. Rothman has been instrumental in developing a strong scientific bond between the United States and France.
One example of how Rothman’s research has significantly contributed to the relationship between the two countries are the results he produced courtesy of receiving a three-year grant from the Partner University Fund (PUF). PUF is a joint program of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and French American Cultural Exchange that promotes academic research partnerships at the graduate and post-doctoral levels. This grant supported a groundbreaking collaboration between Rothman’s team, Ecole Normale laboratories, and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique on the topic of membrane fusion in intracellular trafficking.
French Ambassador François Delattre stated, “It is an immense honor for the French Embassy to pay tribute to this exceptional scientist and treasured friend of France. With his PUF grant, he has created a strong French-American collaboration and tackles the most fundamental questions in science. Rothman’s work is inscribed in a long history of scientific partnerships between France and the US, from Benjamin Franklin, to André Frédéric Cournand, and more recently to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. With our brainpower united, we continue to construct the future of science today.”