On August 4, 2003, René Pellat unexpectedly passed away. Born February 24, 1936, he graduated from Ecole Polytechnique as well as from the Corps des Ponts et Chaussées. René Pellat also earned a PhD in Physical Sciences in 1967. Seconded as an engineer to the Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion Department in the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission, Fontenay-aux-Roses Center), he worked on theoretical research projects from 1962 to 1971. Apart from being a member of and chairing various scientific boards, René Pellat was appointed President of the National Center for Space (Cnes) in 1992 and took over several other responsible positions. Since 1987 he was visiting professor at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). R. Pellat was one of the most well known fusion scientists worldwide following his early work in the field. He has also made significant contributions in several other fields of science such as astrophysics.

As chairman of the Coordinative Committee for the Euratom fusion programme (CCE-FU) since 1999 he played a key role in promoting the ITER project in both the scientific and political world.

Since 2001 he was Head of the Defense Nuclear Safety Authority and Atomic Energy High Commissioner from 1998 to 2003.