The Talent Awards 2021 were granted Thursday, November 25th, 2021, during the Scientific Day of the 53rd Directors’ Meeting of the Pasteur Network. The winners of the fifth edition of these awards are Dr. Gregorio Iraol from the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (Uruguay) and Dr. Nathalie Vandevelde from Sciensano (Belgium). The virtual ceremony was conducted by Prof. Stewart Cole, Director General of the Institut Pasteur, accompanied by Dr. Pierre-Marie Girard, International Director of the institute, in the presence of Prof. Amadou Sall, President of the Pasteur Network, along with all the directors of the Pasteur Network.
Since 2017, the Institut Pasteur rewards the work of two researchers of the Pasteur Network who are destined to become the leaders of tomorrow's network with a prize called Talent Awards. This €10,000 prize aims to support the career and underlines the investment of the two laureates for their work within the Pasteur Network.
Dr. Gregorio Iraola, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo
Dr. Gregorio Iraola
We are still discovering new bacterial, viral and microbe species that have never been described so far.
Dr. Gregorio Iraola is Head of the Microbial Genomics Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo and develops computational approaches to study the microbial world. He also coordinates the Latinbiota Consortium, which aims to characterize the microbiome of all Latin American populations and defines the relationship between the microbiome and the population’s health. One of his objectives is to extend this consortium to the Pasteur Network, creating a global map of the human intestinal microbiota.
He leads other long-term projects such as the MetaSUB International Consortium, which he joined in 2017, to study the microbiome of urban environments around the world. In addition, Dr. Gregorio Iraola leads a genomic, epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics study of Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea.
Dr. Iraola holds both a master's degree in Bioinformatics and a PhD in Biology with a focus on microbial genomics from the Universidad de la República and the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo. He also conducted a city-scale metagenomic study that analyses the diffusion and evolution of antibiotic resistance in urban environments, hospital settings and the human population.
In addition to the study of the microbiome, he has recently applied his knowledge and skills to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by leading Uruguayan efforts to implement and deploy genomic epidemiology tools to characterize the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 using next generation sequencing technologies.
Dr. Gregorio Iraola is also affiliated with the Host-Microbiota Interactions Laboratory at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (UK) and the Center for Integrative Biology at the Universidad Mayor of Santiago de Chile (Chile) as an international collaborator.
Dr. Nathalie Vandevelde, Sciensano
Dr. Nathalie Vandevelde
I am deeply convinced that the training of heathcare professionals is essential if we want to improve heathcare quality.
Nathalie Vandevelde is the scientific project manager of the Belgian National Reference Centres for Rare Diseases since 2019. Among her activities performed in close collaboration with several academic European hospitals, she is currently developing international quality assessment programs and protocols for clinical studies focusing on new clinical biology tests used for certain rare diseases. Through her activities, she wants to improve the patients’ access to healthcare, while improving the quality of the analyses, by strengthening the share of knowledge at the international level.
To carry out her project, Dr. Nathalie Vandevelde can count on her recognized experience by various awards and grants such as the Clinical Research Scholar Award received in 2017 from the Harvard University, where she was trained in clinical research before becoming Teaching Assistant position at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2018. During these years, she was also conducting a postdoc at the Belgian institute for health, Sciensano, and developed Belgian health economics models. She was particularly focused on the reimbursement of medical analyses of clinical biology for rare diseases as well as on the financing of national centers studying rare diseases.
Her approach to public health is based on her training in pharmaceutical sciences with a master's degree and a PhD in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences obtained at the Université catholique de Louvain in 2010 and 2014 respectively. During the latter, she focused on the parameters favoring the chronicity of Streptococcus pneumoniae infections, in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
With this clinical approach, she now promotes the management of rare diseases by seeking the best diagnosis and monitoring for the patients.
« Pasteur Network Talent Awards » 2019 (in French)