Renée Habib, one of the giants of Pediatric Nephrology, died on December 4, 2009, in Paris, France. Throughout her professional life as a physician and scientist, Mme. Habib demonstrated extraordinary insight and understanding regarding the pathology of kidney diseases and contributed to significant advances in the treatment of different disorders. Beyond her exceptional scientific contributions, however, she was also an outstanding teacher and mentor, devoted to training the next generation of clinicians and investigators across the globe. On a personal note, I had the great privilege and honor of working with and learning from her and she was one of my most influential mentors. Mme. Habib was instrumental in the establishment of Pediatric Nephrology as a discipline in scientific communities and institutions worldwide, and she touched the lives of countless faculty, students, and investigators, directly and indirectly, in her tireless efforts to expand the research scope and number of pediatric nephrologists internationally.
Mme. Habib was born August 26, 1924, in Casablanca, Morocco. She left Morocco after high school to pursue her university studies at the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, where she enrolled at the close of World War II, in October 1945. Certified in both Hematology (1950) and Pathology (1951), Mme. Habib received her Doctor of Medicine in 1954 with a thesis on renal polyarteritis nodosa. Intellectually gifted and scientifically innovative, she embarked on what proved a consistently groundbreaking research career in the field now known as Nephropathology. Through close collaboration with the Pediatric Nephrology Department at the Enfants Malades Hospital and with the Adult Renal Unit at the Necker Hospital in Paris, Mme. Habib studied thousands of patients with various nephropathologies, which enabled her to develop and propose an original classification of glomerular nephropathologies based on disease morphology. Her classification scheme is a classic body of work that is still accepted by all nephrologists and nephropathologists worldwide and has led to numerous advances in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple renal disorders. Having trained hundreds of physicians who for over four decades flocked to her laboratories from across the globe, many moving on to their own distinguished research careers and contributing to the worldwide dissemination of her concepts and methods, Mme. Habib was the creator and driving force of the “French School” of renal pathology.
Pediatric Nephrology has lost one its founders but she will remain a seminal figure in the scientific history and progress of our discipline. Her legacy will be appreciated and admired for generations to come.
Isidro Salusky, M.D.