PARIS—Jules Hoffman, one of last year's Nobel prize winners for physiology or medicine, was selected to become an immortal yesterday. That is the moniker given to the 40 members of the French Academy, a body established in 1635 to define the French language and ensure that its standards are maintained.
In a secret ballot among the 23 members present, Hoffman won 17 votes in the first round to earn the spot held by scholar and author Jacqueline de Romilly until her death in December 2010. The immunologist will join fellow Academy of Sciences member François Jacob, ophthalmologist Yves Pouliquen, philosopher Michel Serres, economist/novelist Erik Orsenna, and former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. But Hoffman will have to wait about a year to be formally admitted.
Chemist Bernard Meunier, head of communications of the Academy of Sciences, noted that the Luxembourg-born Hoffman is "not exuberant in the French sense." He has "a great serenity, thinks before he speaks and when he does, it is always in an impeccable French."