Connecting European Neuroscience

Jean-Gael Barbara



Jean-Gaël Barbara was born in Grenoble (France) in 1968. He is currently a CNRS neuroscientist research fellow in history of the neurosciences at Sorbonne Universités, Univ Paris 06, CNRS UMR 8246, Neurosciences Paris Seine - Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (NPS - IBPS). He is also an associate research fellow at the CNRS philosophy and history of science laboratory SPHERE, CNRS UMR7219. After graduating from the Ėcole normale supérieure de Lyon, he was trained in molecular biology and biochemistry, plant physiology and electrophysiology. In 2007, ten years after his PhD in neuroscience, he obtained a second PhD in the field of the history of the neurosciences. He has published two books, La Naissance du Neurone (Vrin, 2010) and Le Paradigme neuronal (Hermann, 2010). He is the founding chair and Co-chair of the Club d’Histoire des Neurosciences of the Société des Neurosciences with Jean-Claude Dupont, Member of the Comité régional n°3 d’éthique sur l’expérimentation animale, Member of the Société des neurosciences, FENS, Société d’histoire de la médecine, Société d’histoire des sciences et des techniques.

Professional and academic career

Jean-Gaël Barbara is a CNRS neuroscientist research fellow since 1999. Since 2003, he works as a historian of the neurosciences at Sorbonne Universités, Univ Paris 06, CNRS UMR 8246.  

Honours and awards

1997 Eli Lilly Fellowship

1997-1999 Fellow of the Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSP)

1998 Fellowship of the Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca

2009 Funding of the Groupe de Recherche Internationale franco-russe d’histoire des neurosciences.

2009 Outstanding article Prize from the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (2009) for an article on Louis Ranvier in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences.

2011 Fellwoship from FENS for the Club d’histoire des neurosciences’ website

2015-2018 Prime d’encadrement et de recherche


General administrative and organisational experience 

Head of the Groupe de Recherche Internationale franco-russe d’histoire des neurosciences

Co-chair of the Club d’histoire des neurosciences.


Research interests

Jean-Gaël Barbara is interested in the history of the physiology and the anatomy of the nervous system in the period 1850-1970, and in the birth of Neuroscience as a research movement and as an interdisciplinary approach emerging sooner at the turn of the 20th C.

Selected Publications

J.G. Barbara, 2006, «The physiological construction of the neurone concept (1891-1952) », CR Biol, 329, 437-449.

J.G. Barbara, 2007, « Louis Ranvier (1835-1922): the contribution of microscopy to physiology, and the renewal of French general anatomy », Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 16, 413-431. (ISSN: 0964-704X)

J.G. Barbara, 2007, « Louis Antoine Ranvier (1835-1922) », Journal of Neurology, 253, 399-400.

J.G. Barbara, 2009, « Interplay between scientific theories and researches on the diseases of the nervous system in the nineteenth-century, Paris », Medicine Studies, 1, 339-352.

J.G. Barbara, La naissance du neurone. Paris, Vrin, Collection Mathesis, 2010.

J.G. Barbara, Le paradigme neuronal, de la physiologie expérimentale à la cognition. Paris, Hermann, 2010.

J.G. Barbara, F. Clarac, 2011, « Historical concepts on the relations between nerves and muscles », Brain Research, 1409, 3-22 (ISSN 0006-8993).

D.G. Stuart, F. Clarac, J.G. Barbara, R.M. Brownstone, J. Duchateau, R.M. Enoka. 2011. « Paths of discovery in motoneuron neurobiology », Brain Research, 1409, 1-2, (ISSN 0006-8993).

J.G. Barbara, 2011. « French neurophysiology between East and West: polemics on Pavlovian heritage and reception of Cybernetics » in Franco-Russian relations in the Neurosciences, J.G. Barbara, I. Sirotkina, J.C. Dupont, (éds.), Paris, Hermann, 2011, (ISBN : 978 2 7056 8211 8).

J.G. Barbara, E. Broussolle, J. Poirier, F. Clarac, 2012. Figures and Institutions of the neurological sciences in Paris from 1800 to 1950. Part II: Neurophysiology. Revue neurologique, 168, 106-115, ISSN: 0035-3787.

J.G. Barbara, 2012. The Fessard’s School of neurophysiology after the Second World War in France: globalization and diversity in neurophysiological research (1938-1955), Archives Italiennes de Biologie, 149 (Suppl.), 187-195. (ISSN 0003-9829, Université de Pise éd.)

J.G. Barbara, 2014. « History of Psychopharmacology: From Functional Restitution to Functional Enhancemen», in Handbook of Neuroethics, Jens Clausen and Neil Levy éds., Dordrecht, Springer, 2014, ISBN 978-94-007-4706-7, p. 489-504.

J.G. Barbara, 2016. « Biological generality and general anatomy from Xavier Bichat to Louis Antoine Ranvier », in K. Chemla, R. Chorlay, D. Rabouin, (éds.), The Oxford Handbook of Generality in Mathematics and the Sciences, Oxford UP, 2016.

J.G. Barbara, 2016. « French-Russian connections in the Cold War: the unexpected meeting of Post-Stalinist physiology with Western electroencephalography », in J.C. Dupont, J.G. Barbara, M. Loskutova, E. Kolchinsky (éds.), Biologie et médecine en France et en Russie, Biology and medicine in France and Russia, Paris, Hermann, 2016.




Jean-Gael Barbara

Sorbonne Universités
UPMC Univ Paris 06,
INSERM, CNRS, Neurosciences Paris Seine
Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (NPS - IBPS)
75005 Paris, France, CNRS UMR 8246

7 quai Saint Bernard, 75005 Paris