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Renaut, Joseph-Louis

RENAUT, JOSEPH-LOUIS

(b. La Haye-Descartes, Indre-et-Loire, France, 7 December 1844; d. Lyons, France, 26 December 1917)

medicine, histology.

Renaut began his medical studies at Tours in 1864, continued them in Paris in 1866 and in 1869 won the coveted position of interne des hôpitaux. He held this post until 1875, while studying histology under Cornil and Ranvier at the Collége de France.

Research never overshadowed Renaut’s devotion to medicine. He completed his medical thesis on erysipelas (Contribution á l’étude de l’érysipèle…,1874), and passed the agrégation with his paper De l’intoxication saturnine … (1875), earning two silver medals. In 1876 he accepted the directorship of the pathological anatomy laboratories at the Charité Hospital in Paris.

Many scholars in the French educational establishment felt that defeat in the Franco-Prussian War was due to the superiority of German education and technology. The ensuing French educational reforms decisively affected Renaut. He became a répétiteur in Claude Bernard’s new histology laboratory at the Collège de France, dedicated by Ranvier, its director, to effective “competition with similar German establishments.” In 1877 Renaut accepted the chair of general anatomy and histology at the new Medical Faculty of Lyons. which was created to emulate the German example of educational decentralization. He taught at Lyons for forty years and served as chief physician at the Croix-Rousse, Perron, and Hôtel-Dieu hospitals, retiring from clinical service in 1900.

Renaut’s research and writing focused on histology. In France his Traité d’histologie pratique (1889–1899) was considered, together with Ranvier’s Traité technique d’histologie, as “the most important and original work on this science in the 19th century“(Mollard, “Le Professeur Renaut,” p. 53). It emphasized comparative anatomy and revealed Renaut’s interest in embryology and developmental physiology.

His contributions to histology and pathology include the study of the fibrohyaline membrane (known as “Renaut’s layer”) between the corium and epidermis; the secretory function of connective tissue and the intestinal epithelium; the ciliary epithelium in the lung; the diapedesis of blood cells across the intestinal epithelium: and the continuity of the lymphatic capillary system. He also investigated the syncytial nature of cardiac muscle fibers; the epithelial origin of neuroglia; the aggregation of lymphocytes to form lymphoid follicles: and the pathology of progressive muscular atrophy, of nephritis and myocarditis, and of the fibrous forms of tuberculosis in the lung.

He was a member of the Paris Academy of Medicine, the Société Anatomique, the Société de Biologic, and the Société de Dermatologie et de Syphiligraphie. which he helped found. He also founded the Revue générate d’histologie in 1904.

Renaut participated in many official functions at the University of Lyons and wrote poetry under the pseudonym Sylvain de Saulnay: one of his volumes. Ombres colorées. won a prize from the French Academy, He was one of France’s most distinguished nineteenth-century histologist.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Renaut’s major works are Contribution á l’étude anatomique et clinique de l’érysip’le et des oedèmes de la peau (Paris, 1874); De l’intoxication saturnine chroniquv (Paris, 1875); Note sur les lésions des faisceaux primitifs des muscles votontaires dans ’atrophie musculaire progressive et dans la paralysie saturnine (Versailles, 1876), written with M. Debove; Cours danatomie générale; Leçon d’ouvcrrure, Faculté de médecine de Lyon (Paris, 1877): Note sur la tubcreulose en général et sur ses formes fibre uses pneumoniques en particulier (Lyons, 1879); Traraux du lahoratoire d“anatomie generate et d’histologie, 1880–1881 (Paris, 1882); Instruction médicate sur Ic choléra, par la Société nationale de medeeine de I.von. Lyon…, MM. Renaut. J. Teissier et Ferrand rapporteurs (Lyons, 1884); Titres et travaux sclentijiques de J. Renaut (Lyons, 1887); and Trade dlnstotogie pratique. 2 pts. in 4 vols. (Paris. 1889 1899) Le milieu intérieur et le tissu conjonctij Idche et modele, vol. I;Tissus du squelctte tissu musculaire, systeme vasculainl sanguin et lymphatique, vol. II; Les epitheliums, Lctoderme tigumentaire, vol. Ill; L’ctoderme neural. L’entoderme. Les reins. Les gtandes genitalcs. La rate, vol. IV.

Subsequent writings are Note sur une nouvelle maladie organique dti eoeur; la myocardite segmentate essentietle ehronique (Paris, 1890); Note sur la structure des glandes à mucus du duodénum (glandes de Brunner ) (Versailles, 1879); and Conseils a raccouchée et à la jeune mère. Carnet Renaut, publication mensuelle (Lyons, 1903). Renaut also edited Travaux du laboratoire dliistologie annexe a la Chaire de medecine du College de France 3 vols. (Paris, 1875–1877); and Revue générate d’histologie comprenant l’ exposé successif des principates questions anatomic générale, de structure, de cytologic, d’histogeneses dltistophysiologie er de technique histologique (Paris-Lyons, 1904–1908). His vol. of poetry is Ombres cotorées (Paris, 1906). lie also wrote several articles in A. Dechambre, ed., Dictionnaire encyclopédique des sciences médicates— “Dermatoses (anatomic pathologique),“XXVIII, 141–267; “Epithélial, tissu.“XXXV, 259–349; “llcmorragies’ 4th ser., XIII, 335–475; Nerfs (anatomic).” 2nd sen, XII. 124–181; “Nerveux, systeme (anatomic),” 2nd ser., XII, 391–495; and “Sang (pathologic),” 3rd. ser., XIII, 501–591.

II. Secondary Literature. The most complete biographical sketch is J. Mollard, “Le professeur Renaut,“in Lyon médical, 127 (1918), 49–59. Shorter unsigned accounts are given in France médicale. Rente d’ études d’histoire de la medecine, 53 (1906), 334–336, 347–348; Medecine modems 6th year, no. 53 (3 July 1895), 237; Revue générale de cinique et de thérapeutique, 32 (1918), 16; and Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragetuten Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre, II , 1284–1285. See also P. L. E. M. de Fleury, Nos grands médecins d’aujourd’hui (Paris, 1891), 371–376; G. Hayem. “000C9loge de J.-L. Renaut, associé national,“in Bulletin dc l’ Académic de médecine, 78 (1918), 795–798; and G. Linossier, ’Le professeur J. Renaut,“in Paris médical, 8th year, no. 2(12 January 1918), iv.

Dora B. Weiner

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