Institut de Biologie StructuraleGrenoble / France


New issue for the IBS Newsletter

Find the September 2021 issue (in french only).

Andrea Dessen recipient of the CNRS silver medal

Andrea Dessen, team leader of the Bacterial Pathogenesis group, has been awarded the 2021 Silver Medal of the CNRS. This medal is presented to a researcher for the originality, quality, and importance of their work, which is recognized at national and international levels.

Andrea Dessen is graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rio de Janeiro. She did her PhD work at New York University and her postdoctoral training both at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York) and at Harvard Medical School (Boston), the latter with Pr. Don C. Wiley. She then worked as a staff crystallographer at Genetics Institute/Pfizer in Cambridge, MA, in the Small Molecule Drug Development Dept. Upon moving to France, she was hired by the CNRS in 2000 in Dr. Otto Dideberg’s laboratory at the IBS. As a CNRS Research Director she has been the head of the Bacterial Pathogenesis group at the IBS since 2012. In addition, she also directs a 2nd group at the Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory (LNBio/CNPEM) in Campinas, São Paulo, thanks to a Laboratoire International Associé (LIA) partnership between the CNRS and the CNPEM in Brazil.

The main interest of both groups involves the structural and functional characterization of bacterial virulence factors and cell wall biosynthesis machineries, as well as the identification of novel antibacterial compounds in natural product libraries. The main techniques employed by the teams include X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, high throughput screening and natural product characterization, as well as biochemical, biophysical and microbiological approaches.

Hélène Malet, winner of the CNRS Bronze Medal

Hélène Malet, Associate Professor at the University of Grenoble Alpes and researcher in the Electron Microscopy and Methods group of the IBS, has been awarded the CNRS Bronze Medal for the year 2021 for her work on viral proteins involved in viral replication and transcription (details). This medal rewards the first work of a researcher, which makes him/her a talented specialist in his/her field.

Viral replication and transcription are key steps of the viral cycle. Hélène Malet analyses the structure of viral proteins involved in these processes, in particular viral polymerases. During her thesis, carried out under the supervision of Dr. Bruno Canard at the AFMB, Marseille, she characterized by X-ray crystallography a polymerase structure of the Flaviviridae family, to which the Dengue virus belongs. Then, eager to learn a complementary method of structural biology, she did a post-doctorate in electron microscopy in the laboratory of Pr Helen Saibil at Birkbeck College, London. Since then, she combines her interest in electron microscopy and viral replication. She undertook a post-doctoral fellowship on the structural analysis of Peribunyaviridae polymerase in the group of Dr. Stephen Cusack at EMBL Grenoble, before being recruited as an UGA Associate Professor at IBS in the team of Dr. Guy Schoehn in the Electron Microscopy and Methods group.

Her research project focuses on the structural and functional analysis of bunyavirus replication, a viral order consisting of many highly pathogenic human viruses against which no drugs or vaccines are available. The latest advances in electron microscopy and the presence of state-of-the-art electron microscopes at IBS and ESRF enable to determine high-resolution structures of these essential enzymes thereby revealing their modes of action, a key step for the future development of anti-virals. In the longer term, this project aims to understand the mechanisms of interactions between viral proteins and host proteins involved in the regulation of viral replication, combining high-resolution electron microscopy of isolated particles and cellular electron microscopy, allowing an integrative view of these processes. This project is financially supported by the ANR (HiPathBunya) and the Institut Universitaire de France. It will make an extensive use of IBS technology platforms managed by ISBG and funded by FRISBI and Gral.