French Society of Neuropathology

(Update December 2014)

Executive Committee:
President: Anne Vital
Secretary: Pascale Marcorelles
Treasurer: Antoinette Bernabé-Gelot
Members: Romain Gherardi, Jérôme Authier, Annie Laquerrière, Charles Duyckaerts, Emmanuelle Uro-Costes, Catherine Godfraind.

Current status

There are approximately 50 active neuropathologists in France. They work exclusively in University Hospitals. The neuropathology unit is usually part and parcel in pathology departments with the exception of one department fully devoted to neuropathology.

Status, Training and Examination
Neuropathology is not acknowledged as a specialty of its own in France.

Two diplomas of neuropathology are available: the Inter-University Diploma (“DIU”) of Neuropathology and the “Diploma of Complementary Specialized Study” (“DESC”) in Neuropathology. The teaching courses are identical for the two diplomas that differ by the practical teaching and the status of the students.

Teaching courses (for DESC and DIU) take place twice a year for two years and are coupled with the meeting of the French Neuropathological Society. Theoretical teaching consists of 150 hours of courses in neuropathology extending over two years including four sessions. Each of the four sessions lasts 4 days and is organized with modules including tumor, neurodegeneration, peripheral nerve pathology, myopathology, forensic, vascular, infectious, toxic, and developmental pathology, with emphasis on clinico-pathological correlations. The final exam includes four written questions on subjects covering the various areas of neuropathology, a diagnostic test on 10 microscopic slides and a memoir on clinical or experimental neuropathology.

The difference between DIU and DESC lies in the practical training. The DIU (created in 1995) is directed to pathologists in exercise, or (after the approval by the teaching commission) to neurologists who are practicing neuropathology. Although a practical stage is indispensable to obtain the diploma, there are no formal requirements for it and it is left to the discretion of the teaching commission. The DIU being a “university diploma” (and not a “state diploma”) is not formally recognized by the Health Authorities but is taken into account by the recruitment boards of hospitals and universities.

The DESC (created in 2002) is recognized by the Ministry of Research and Higher Education but is not “qualifying” i.e. is not officially accepted as a specialty by the “Ordre des Médecins”, the jurisdiction that controls French medical activity. The DESC is open to residents (“interne”) in Pathology or in Neurology. Residents in pathology have, after being certified in pathology, to practice neurology for 2 years in neurology departments. If a neurologist, the resident has to practice neuropathology for 2 years in a pathology department that has been authorized by the neuropathology teaching commission. The 2 years of complementary practice take place during residency (for one year) and for one year, after residency, usually as assistant professor.

Several specialized training courses take place regularly in France: a summer training course in myology, a training course in neurooncology (under the auspices of the Association des Neurooncologues d’Expression Française (ANOCEF) and a training course in neurodevelopmental pathology.

Submitted by Charles Duyckaerts & Annie Laquerrière