On June 27, 2018, the National Library of France (BnF) awarded the Pasteur Vallery-Radot Prize to Institut Pasteur researchers Sigolène Meilhac and Jost Enninga. The winners were called up to receive their prizes by BnF director, Laurence Engel at an event attended by Daniel Louvard, member of the French Academy of Sciences and Stewart Cole, President of the Institut Pasteur.
Sigolène Meilhac, head of the Heart Morphogenesis 5-year group at the Institut Pasteur
Sigolène Meilhac uses multidisciplinary basic research techniques to examine heart development. Since the organ's shape is critical to its function, her team has opted to analyze ventricle growth, which is vital in terms of force of contraction. She identified a new factor regulating heart muscle cell replication, opening up new avenues in the field of heart repair medicine. Her team is also seeking to shed light on the mechanisms involved in the alignment of heart chambers, which is necessary for establishing double blood circulation. A computer model was developed to predict the shape of the endocardial tube in embryos, which provides the basis of the adult structure. The analysis of these embryo development processes has implications in terms of understanding the cause of heart malformations affecting 1% of newborn infants.
Sigolène Meilhac is a researcher at INSERM. Having graduated from the École normale supérieure, she discovered a passion for developmental biology through her thesis at the Institut Pasteur and post-doctorate at the Gurdon Institute (UK). In 2012, she was selected for the "jeunes chercheuses, jeunes chercheurs" young researchers program run by the French National Research Agency (ANR), and has directed the Heart Morphogenesis laboratory at the Institut Imagine and Institut Pasteur since 2015. Alongside this, she works as a university lecturer and supervisor, while also developing science workshops for children.
Jost Enninga, head of the Institut Pasteur's Dynamics of Host-Pathogen Interactions Unit
Jost Enninga's research relates to host-pathogenic bacteria interactions at cellular and molecular level. To measure these, he developed new imaging technology capable of assessing host-pathogen dialog at very high spatiotemporal resolution. His team's work identified molecular cascades used by certain types of intracellular bacteria such as Shigella flexneri, Salmonella enterica, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, enabling them to access the host cell cytosol.
Jost Enninga is a director of research at the Institut Pasteur where he manages the Dynamics of Host-Pathogen Interactions unit. He studied biochemistry at the University of Hanover (Germany) before completing a PhD in the cellular biology laboratory at the Rockefeller University (United States) supervised by Günter Blobel. He undertook his postdoctoral training at the Institut Pasteur under the supervision of Guy Tran Van Nhieu and Philippe Sansonetti. In addition to his research, Jost Enniga is involved in scientific teaching as the joint organizer of a series of practical imaging courses at the Institut Pasteur and around the world.
The Pasteur Vallery-Radot Prize
Jacqueline Pasteur Vallery-Radot, wife of Louis Pasteur's grandson, chose the National Library of France (BnF) as the residuary legatee of her estate. Under the terms of her will, the BnF awards two €16,000 prizes every year in consultation with the Institut Pasteur. Since 2007, these prizes have been awarded annually to two French Institut Pasteur scientists under the age of 50 who have carried out a major scientific project in the field of biology or physics/chemistry over the last five years, thus proving themselves to be worthy heirs of Pasteur himself. Winners are chosen by a panel of Institut Pasteur and French Academy of Sciences members, chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences.