Institut de Biologie StructuraleGrenoble / France


Congratulations to Andrea Carfi, former IBS PhD student, for the development of the Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

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We are proud to announce that Andrea Carfi, currently VP & Head of Research for Infectious Disease at Moderna, Cambridge, MA, USA, is an IBS alumnus.

After receiving his doctorate under the direction of Otto Dideberg (retired) at the IBS in 1997 he completed his training as a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Don Wiley’s group at Children’s Hospital (Harvard University) in Boston, MA, where he met the current IBS director Prof. W. Weissenhorn. Andrea Carfi then moved to industry, joining Merck in 2002. He returned to Cambridge (USA) in 2010 as a senior manager first at Novartis Vaccines and then GSK vaccines. He joined Moderna in 2017, where he contributed to the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine that was recently approved for use by the European Medicines Agency ( The Moderna’s COVID19 vaccine has been approved and used in France since 11 January

To know more :

SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine design enabled by prototype pathogen preparedness. Corbett KS, Edwards DK, Leist SR, Abiona OM, Boyoglu-Barnum S, Gillespie RA, Himansu S, Schäfer A, Ziwawo CT, DiPiazza AT, Dinnon KH, Elbashir SM, Shaw CA, Woods A, Fritch EJ, Martinez DR, Bock KW, Minai M, Nagata BM, Hutchinson GB, Wu K, Henry C, Bahl K, Garcia-Dominguez D, Ma L, Renzi I, Kong WP, Schmidt SD, Wang L, Zhang Y, Phung E, Chang LA, Loomis RJ, Altaras NE, Narayanan E, Metkar M, Presnyak V, Liu C, Louder MK, Shi W, Leung K, Yang ES, West A, Gully KL, Stevens LJ, Wang N, Wrapp D, Doria-Rose NA, Stewart-Jones G, Bennett H, Alvarado GS, Nason MC, Ruckwardt TJ, McLellan JS, Denison MR, Chappell JD, Moore IN, Morabito KM, Mascola JR, Baric RS, Carfi A, Graham BS. (2020). Nature ; 586(7830):567-571. &

Structural and functional investigations of novel microbial rhodopsins

Microbial rhodopsins constitute a large and diverse superfamily of light-sensitive membrane proteins. They play a major role in solar energy capture in the sea, utilizing it to perform ion translocation, sensory, enzymatic, and other activities. Microbial rhodopsins also found essential applications in medicine in neuroscience, being the core of optogenetics - biotechnology for optical control on living cells and tissues. Our group studies the functional and structural properties of new families of rhodopsins. Recently, we reported the first high-resolution insights into the heliorhodopsin family (1), which showed that these proteins are likely unique photoenzymes with unusual architecture. Next, we determined the structural basis of light-driven sodium pumping by solving the structure of KR2 rhodopsin in its active state (2). Finally, we characterized two members of viral rhodopsins group 1 (3). We showed that they are light-gated Na+/K+-selective channels, inhibited by Ca2+. We also solved a structure of one of them at 1.4 Å. Thus, our studies revealed both functional and mechanistic features of the distinct clades of microbial rhodopsins but also created a strong fundament for further investigations of the expanding superfamily.

(1) High Resolution Structural Insights into the Heliorhodopsin Family. Kovalev K., Volkov D, Astashkin R, Alekseev A, Gushchin I, Haro-Moreno JM, Rogachev A, Balandin T, Borshchevskiy V, Popov A, Bourenkov G, Bamberg E, Rodriguez-Valera F, Bueldt G, Gordeliy V. Nature Communications 2020 Feb 25 ;11:2137.

(2) Molecular mechanism of light-driven sodium pumping. Kovalev K, Astashkin R, Gushchin I, Orekhov P, Volkov D, Zinovev E, Marin E, Rulev M, Alekseev A, Royant A, Carpentier P, Vaganova S, Zabelskii D, Baeken C, Sergeev I, Balandin T, Bourenkov G, Carpena X, Boer R, Maliar N, Borshchevskiy V, Bueldt G, Bamberg E, Gordeliy V. Nature Communications 2020 May 1 ; 11:2137.

(3) Viral Rhodopsins 1 : A Unique Family of Light-Gated Ion Channels. Zabelskii D, Alekseev A, Kovalev K, Rankovic V, Balandin T, Soloviov D, Bratanov D, Savelyeva E, Podolyak E, Volkov D, Vaganova S, Astashkin R, Chizhov I, Yutin N, Rulev M, Popov A, Eria-Oliveira AS, Rokitskaya T, Mager T, Antonenko Y, Rosselli R, Armeev G, Shaitan K, Vivaudou M, Büldt G, Rodriguez-Valera F, Kirpichnikov M, Moser T, Koonin E, Offenhäusser A, Bamberg E, Gordeliy V. Nature Communications 2020 Nov 11 2020 ;11(1):5707.

Contact : Valentin Gordeliy

Paul Schanda receives Varian Young Investigator Award

The EUROMAR committee awarded the Varian Young Investigator prize to Paul Schanda (IBS/NMR). This prestigious award was created in honour of Russel Varian, a pioneer in NMR spectroscopy, to recognize a single investigator within the first 12 years of his/her independent career, for achievements in any area of magnetic resonance.
This award recognises Paul Schanda’s methodological developments to characterise the dynamics and structure of proteins in solid and liquid states. Some of the methods developed by his team are widely used to monitor, for example, the kinetic processes of proteins, or to detect transient conformational states (details).
A few weeks ago, Paul Schanda was also awarded the ICMRBS Founders’ Medal, which recognises the outstanding contributions of young scientists to the development of magnetic resonance in biological systems.