A two-sided philanthropic policy. The Mérieux Foundation and French epidemiological surveillance from the 1970s to 1990s

Philanthropic enterprises
By François Buton

Thanks to various sources (documents, interviews, and Charles Mérieux’s professional archives), this article analyzes the part played by the Mérieux Foundation in the development of applied epidemiology in France from the 1970s to the 1990s. On the one hand, the foundation contributed “from the bottom,” at the margins of the state, to the production and the dissemination of new knowledge, thanks to a specific training institute. On the other hand, it contributed “from the top,” as its president was in touch with high level civil servants and government members (even the French presidents), keeping them informed about developments. Providing an alternative to government health policies whilst interacting with the country’s top leaders at the same time, the Mérieux Foundation’s policy seems to have been typically philanthropic.


  • philanthropy
  • foundation
  • epidemiology
  • health policies
  • heath agency
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