Pierre was born and raised in Montréal, Canada. He graduated with a PhD from the Université of Montréal, where he studied epithelial repair post-injury in the alveolar spaces of the lung using quantitative electron microscopy. Pierre then pursued postdoctoral training with Dr. Elaine Fuchs at the University of Chicago, where he began a long standing interest in studying skin epithelial homeostasis from the perspective of keratin intermediate filament properties and function. As a postdoc Pierre played a key role in the discovery of the mechanical support role of keratin filaments in vivo, and of the first set of mutations affecting an intermediate filament gene, namely keratin 14 (K14), causing a devastating disease known as epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS).
Pierre recently left Johns Hopkins University for the University of Michigan, where he serves as the G. Carl Huber Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB). He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Dermatology at the same institution, and maintains an adjunct faculty status in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which he chaired between 2008 and 2017, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Of the several honors and awards that Pierre received during his career, he is most proud of receiving the Teacher of the Year Award from the Johns Hopkins University Graduate Student Association in 2000, the William F. Montagna Award from the Society for Investigative Dermatology in 2008, of his election as a Fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2009, and the invitation to give the inaugural Mary Schwartz lecture in epithelial biology at the University of Dundee in 2013.