Actualité - Award

Dr. Matthieu Piel, winner of the Fondation Allianz - Institut de France prize


Dr. Matthieu Piel, head of the Systems Biology of Cell Polarity and Cell Division (BIO6) team (CNRS UMR144/Sorbonne Université) has been honored by the French Academy of Sciences for his research into the influence of physical constraints on immune and cancer cells. He was awarded the Fondation Allianz - Institut de France prize.

Matthieu Piel

© Institut Curie / BELONCLE Frank

Cells are highly complex molecular objects. They are also physical objects, subject to forces, deformation, damage and repair. Molecular biology and cell physics have long been stupied separately, yet these two aspects of cellular biology are inseparable in understanding how cells function and behave. 

This was the starting point for Dr. Matthieu Piel, head of the Systems Biology of Cell Polarity and Cell Division (BIO6) team (CNRS UMR144/Sorbonne Université), who has been studying the consequences of physical constraints on cell growth and motility at Institut Curie for some fifteen years. 

On November 21, Matthieu Piel's expertise in the field of cellular confinement and its effects on the nucleus and DNA was recognized by the French Academy of Sciences, which awarded him the Fondation Allianz - Institut de France prize. 

The major contribution of Matthieu Piel and his research team has been to highlight the importance of cell confinement within tissues. This in turn leads to a wide variety of shapes being imposed on cells and their organelles, especially the nucleus, and guides their behavior. 

Their work has led to discoveries such as the existence of nuclear envelope ruptures in confined cells, and their repercussions on the progression of mammary tumors. 

Les cellules sont des objets moléculaires d’une grande complexité. Ce sont aussi des objets physiques qui sont soumises à des forces, se déforment, s’abîment et se réparent. La biologie moléculaire et la physique des cellules ont longtemps été étudiées séparément, pourtant ces deux aspects de la biologie cellulaire sont indissociables pour comprendre le fonctionnement et le comportement des cellules.

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The Fondation Allianz-Institut de France prize was created in 1984 (AGF - Athena foundation). Aimed at encouraging further research, the award is presented each year to a researcher in charge of a French medical or biomedical research team, whose work has led or may lead to clinical applications likely to increase life expectancy through preventive or curative action. Exceptionally, it may be awarded to a foreign team, when the origin or development of the work has been carried out in France or in close collaboration with Franch teams. The prize is worth €50,000.

In 2021, Dr. Nicolas Manel, head of the Innate Immunity team (Inserm U932), was honored for his work on a new immunomodulatory biomedicine currently undergoing development against cancer and infectious diseases.