The medical researcher Jacques Fellay is studying the human genome in search of genetic variations that influence how the body reacts to a virus and to the drugs fighting it. He is to be awarded the National Latsis Prize 2012 for his research.
Jacques Fellay is a "bridge builder" and an advocate of translational research, a discipline that allows the results of basic research to be transferred to medical practice. Always on the borderline between laboratory and hospital, he is of the opinion that, in order to discover medically useful solutions, an exchange between the two worlds is needed.
Jacques Fellay applies this thinking in his own research, which is conducted at the intersection of genomics and infectious diseases and for which he receives the National Latsis Prize 2012. The information stored in our genes can be of great value for developing new treatments.
Different responses to drugs
At the beginning of the millennium, the treatment of HIV patients - persons who were infected with the virus that causes AIDS - still involved serious, undesired side-effects. Jacques Fellay, then a doctoral student of Amalio Telenti in Lausanne, discovered the existence of genetic variations that influence the individual's response to antiretroviral drugs: some patients have a higher concentration of drugs in the blood than others, which in turn increases the risk of a toxic reaction. Knowledge of their genetic profile now makes it easier to predict harmful effects and adjust the treatment accordingly.
During a four-year stay at Duke University in the United States, Jacques Fellay became interested in the genetic material of people who are carriers of the hepatitis C virus. He discovered that the genetic make-up of the patient played a significant role in the success of antiviral treatments, which are only effective in 50 percent of the cases. Today, these genetic predictors of the response to drugs are taken into account by doctors when they choose a treatment.
Fighting viral diseases
At the same time, Fellay kept on studying the HIV virus. He identified three genes that enable certain patient populations to exercise better immune control over the disease. This could be a crucial step towards the development of a vaccine.
Since 2011, as the holder of an SNSF professorship and head of his own lab at the Faculty of Life Sciences at EPF Lausanne, Jacques Fellay has kept on searching for features of the human genome that make it possible to counter viral diseases. Together with his team, he is studying mutations that occur in HIV when fought by the immune system and investigating the genetic variations of infected persons that might be the cause of this.
Bridges of hope
Jacques Fellay is also attempting to understand the different reactions of children to seasonal flu and the respiratory syncytial virus. Why do some children only have fever for a few days, while others need to be admitted to the intensive care unit? Jacques Fellay is convinced of the potential that genomics holds for the future of medicine and continues to build bridges of hope between science and medical practice.
Worth 100,000 Swiss francs, the National Latsis Prize is one of the most prestigious scientific awards in Switzerland. Each year, the Swiss National Science Foundation presents the prize on behalf of the Latsis Foundation to researchers of up to 40 years of age in recognition of their special contribution to science in Switzerland.
The prize will be awarded on 10 January 2013 at the Rathaus in Berne.
Prizes of the Latsis Foundation
The Latsis Foundation was established by the Greek family Latsis in Geneva in 1975. The National Latsis Prize is awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation on behalf of the Latsis Foundation. In addition, there are four university Latsis prizes worth 25,000 Swiss francs each, which are awarded by the University of Geneva, the University of St. Gallen, ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne.
Prof. Jacques Fellay
Global Health Institute
Faculty of Life Sciences
Tel.: +41 (0)21 693 18 49
More articles from Awards Funding:
2013 Nicholas Kurti European Science Prize for Dr. Lapo Bogani (1. Physikalisches Institut)
23.05.2013 | Universität Stuttgart
Max Delbrück Medal for US Stem Cell Pioneer Professor Irving Weissman
22.05.2013 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC) Berlin-Buch
New indicator molecules visualise the activation of auto-aggressive T cells in the body as never before
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to examine individual cells and their activity directly in the tissue.
The development of new microscopes and fluorescent dyes in ...
A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.
The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers.
Droplets in this toroidal shape made ...
Frauhofer FEP will present a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high-barriers and functional films for flexible displays at the SID DisplayWeek 2013 in Vancouver – the International showcase for the Display Industry.
Displays that are flexible and paper thin at the same time?! What might still seem like science fiction will be a major topic at the SID Display Week 2013 that currently takes place in Vancouver in Canada.
High manufacturing cost and a short lifetime are still a major obstacle on ...
University of Würzburg physicists have succeeded in creating a new type of laser.
Its operation principle is completely different from conventional devices, which opens up the possibility of a significantly reduced energy input requirement. The researchers report their work in the current issue of Nature.
It also emits light the waves of which are in phase with one another: the polariton laser, developed ...
Innsbruck physicists led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller experimentally gained a deep insight into the nature of quantum mechanical phase transitions.
They are the first scientists that simulated the competition between two rival dynamical processes at a novel type of transition between two quantum mechanical orders. They have published the results of their work in the journal Nature Physics.
“When water boils, its molecules are released as vapor. We call this ...
23.05.2013 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2013 | Health and Medicine
23.05.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
17.05.2013 | Event News
15.05.2013 | Event News
08.05.2013 | Event News