Born in Geneva on 12 August 1946, Jean-Dominique Vassalli obtained his federal medical degree from the University of Geneva in 1972, his PhD from the Rockefeller University in 1977 and his MD from the University of Geneva in 1984.

In 1991, he was appointed Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, a position he held until 1999. He was then appointed Vice-Rector of the University of Geneva. He held this position until 2003. In particular, he was in charge of portfolios relating to Vaud-Geneva collaboration and the exploitation of scientific discoveries.

From 2004 to July 2007, he chaired the Section of Basic Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine. Jean-Dominique Vassalli is president of the Foundation “Dialogue des Savoirs”, which aims to set up and organise a world-class scientific interface and whose objective is to bring the natural and human sciences closer together.