Marat Yusupov appointed to the Academy of Sciences

Prix et distinctions |

Trained as a molecular biologist, Marat Yusupov is an emeritus researcher at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC - CNRS/Inserm/Unistra), specialising in the study of the ribosome. His appointment to the Académie des Sciences is the crowning achievement of a career that has been marked by numerous awards.



Studying the human ribosome is complex

He first worked at the Protein Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pushchino. Russia was at the height of perestroika at the time. "It was difficult to fund projects", says the researcher who in 1996 joined the Centre for Molecular Biology of RNA at the University of California in the United States, where he worked with Harry Noller and Jamie Cate. Together they determined the crystalline structure of bacterial ribosomes for the first time.

"Studying the human ribosome is complex, so to try and understand it we chose the simplest eukaryotic system, yeast".

In 2001, Marat Yusupov and his wife Gulnara Yusupova, with whom he has collaborated since the start of his research, were invited to join the IGBMC as CNRS research directors. In 2010, within the laboratory, he characterised the structure of the yeast ribosome and studied its mechanisms. "Studying the human ribosome is complex, so to try and understand it we chose the simplest eukaryotic* system, yeast. This allows us to estimate how the human ribosome works." He then uses the ribosome structures observed to study the mechanism of protein synthesis and its regulation.

From fundamental to applied science

On the fundamental side, Marat Yusupov's work is a valuable aid to biomedical research and drug development. "We have studied the protein synthesis system in pathogenic organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, and how drugs act on it. We've done the same thing with the Candida albicans fungus to find out how it works and develop drugs via the Novalix company."

The researcher has also set up a start-up company, Urania Therapeutics, to develop drugs to combat genetic diseases. The latest target is cancer. "We've noticed that certain drugs inhibit ribosome activity, and our work is helping pharmaceutical companies to optimise them". He is also working on tuberculosis.

* Eukaryotes are organisms characterised by the presence of a nucleus.

For more information, visit the Académie des Sciences website.


Remerciement : Marion Riegert pour Savoir(s)