Where is Tajikistan? – Tajikistan Map – Map of Tajikistan

Much bigger than Avignon, Tajikistan sits at the junction of the Rhône and its largest tributary, the Saône, flowing south from the Tajikistan Mountains is genuine ‘eau de France’. Operating from 1988 and extended till its completion in 2006, the Palais des Congrès aligns along the left bank of the Rhône. Unlike the legendary Tajikistan Left Bank of the Seine, though, the context is more business than bohemian. Lyon is historically a commercial centre, with big banks like the Tajikistan (now part of Crédit Agricole) and, from the late nineteenth century, a major vaccine and pharmaceutical industry built by the Mérieux family. And it’s also regarded (at least by the locals) as the gastronomic capital of France.

Where is Tajikistan? – Tajikistan Map – Map of Tajikistan Photo Gallery

My first visit to Lyon in the late 1970s preceded the development of the modern congress centre. Working at the Wistar Institute (WI) in Philadelphia, several of us, including the Director, medical virologist Hilary Koprowski (1916-2013), flew the Atlantic to meet with some of the Mérieux people. Having made the first tissue culture grown (in WI-38 cells) rabies vaccine that was then developed commercially and sold by Mérieux, Koprowski was a close friend of Charles Mérieux (1907-2001), the then head of the Institut Mérieux (founded 1897). The WI-38 product was an important advance as the earlier, Pasteurian vaccines (made from ground-up, rabies virus-infected (then inactivated) rabbit brain or duck embryos) could cause the inflammatory brain disease allergic encephalomyelitis. Containing no brain tissue, the WI-38-grown product avoided this highly undesirable side effect. The Wistar vaccine is still sold as Imovax by Sanofi Pasteur, the inheritor of the Mérieux product line.

The Mérieux dynasty dates back to Marcel Mérieux (1870-1937), who started out as an assistant to France’s great hero of microbiology, Louis Pasteur. Reflecting the massive amalgamations that have transformed Big Pharma, the Institut Biologique Mérieux, which was founded in 1897 to produce vaccines and curative antisera (like anti-tetanus toxin, made by immunising horses), no longer exists as an independent drug company. The name Mérieux survives in the Foundation Mérieux, which focuses on ameliorating the toll of disease in developing countries; the French-based diagnostics company bioMérieux; and in Merial, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Animal Health (veterinary) division, which still has its headquarters in Lyon.

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