Actualité - Award

Two young researchers from Institut Curie, the future elite in European molecular biology

Valérie Devillaine
11/13/2019
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Daniele Fachinetti and Jean-Léon Maître receive honors from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) as part of its Young Investigators program.
YIP EMBO

This is a recognition of their early successes and the promise of a bright future!

The Young Investigators program of the EMBO sets out strict requirements: applicants must be aged under 40, and have already headed a research team for at least the past three years (and 6 years at most), and they must have published scientific results for their laboratory. They then submit an application, to be shortlisted, before they can hope to appear before a jury of senior members of the organization, in its Heidelberg offices in Germany.

They are looking to discover scientists with a vision and a plan for the future of biology 

explains Jean-Léon Maître.

Only 10% of applicants are admitted to this program, i.e. around 25 young researchers each year for all of Europe. And Jean-Léon Maître and his colleague Daniele Fachinetti, from Institut Curie, are among those numbers. They have just been recognized by their elders as young talents who will belong to the elite of European molecular biology in the coming decades.

Each of them has a remarkable approach and an innovative vision within their discipline.

Daniele Fachinetti studies the instability of the genome during cell division. During this process, which is vital to the life of cells, a mother cell must distribute its genetic material evenly between two daughter cells. And this even distribution depends on the specific molecular structures - the centromeres - located at the core of the chromosomes. Thanks to high-tech gene editing, imaging and proteomic techniques, so-called single-molecule approaches, this young researcher and her team are revealing basic processes of the living organism, as well as their anomalies, which are largely observed in cancers and certain developmental diseases.

Jean-Léon Maître uses the basic concepts of physics, such as forces and pressures, to understand the living organism, and in particular looks at how a mammal embryo acquires its form, a form necessary to its implantation in the uterus, and thus necessary to its development. This different way of looking at biological processes provides unique and complementary information in addition to the more classic gene-focused approach. His discoveries have implications for both the understanding of the formation of cancer metastases in breast cancer, for example, and the improvement of medically-assisted reproduction techniques.

Now members of the very exclusive group of Young Investigators of the EMBO, these two scientists will receive assistance from this international organization to further, their work. They can join meetings, seminars and conferences with their peers - costs of their participation in these events and their travel costs will be covered by the EMBO.

It means belonging to a unique network. Scientific collaboration is vital for the progress of research and I hope that this award will help me create new collaborations and new exchanges 

enthuses Daniele Fachinetti.

We can share our expertise with others and vice versa

continues Jean-Léon Maître. The two award winners will also enjoy preferred access to the equipment of the EMBL - European Molecular Biology Laboratory, in Heidelberg, one of the best technological platforms in Europe: "The EMBL is to biology what the CERN is to physics," explains Jean-Léon Maître.

The two researchers are also delighted for their team:

This award is not just personal, but it is shared with our teams who have made an enormous contribution to this success over the past years.