He was a scientific advisor to the French Prime Minister from 1985 to 1986 and is a member of Academia Europæa. He was made a commander of the Ordre National du Mérite (English: the National Order of Merit) in 1982 and of the Légion d'honneur (English: Legion of Honor) in 1984. He was born in Paris.
His grandparents, Marie and Pierre Curie together with Henri Becquerel won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for their study of radioactivity. Marie also won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. Joliot's parents, Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.