The Virology Department is constituted by 21 principal investigators with their research units, covering most aspects of contemporary virology with a special emphasis on human pathogenic viruses.

The department houses different National Reference Centres and WHO Collaborating Centres for viruses. Our primary mission is to remain at the cutting edge of fundamental research and, at the same time, close to applications in global public health issues.

Most of the members of the Department are involved in teaching in the two post-graduate virology courses of Institut Pasteur.

The research teams have many collaborations within and between departments on campus, and at the national and international level, including the Institut Pasteur international network and with numerous hospitals.

Scientific background and interests

The viruses that the Virology Department study are diverse, including oncogenic viruses, that cause cancer (hepatitis viruses, papillomavirus, herpesvirus and HTLV), retroviruses (HIV, HTLV and foamy viruses – as well as their simian counterparts), respiratory viruses (influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus), arboviruses (flaviviruses, alphaviruses, bunyaviruses).

Other viruses studied include picornaviruses, rhabdoviruses and paramyxoviruses such as measles and parainfluenza viruses. Highly pathogenic agents such as Lassa and Nipah viruses are studied in the context of the biosafety level 4 facilities in Lyon.

The Department’s research aims at understanding the molecular mechanisms at play during the different steps of the viral cycle. A large effort is currently being made to decipher virus/host interactions, and physio-pathological events associated with virus infection. The Department’s research includes:

  • The molecular and cellular mechanisms of the viral cycle – cell entry and uncoating, genome replication, particle assembly, egress.
  • The pathogenesis of viruses causing different diseases (cancer; immunodeficiency; neurological, respiratory, enteric and hepatic diseases).
  • The dissemination of the virus within the organism (crossing of anatomical barriers), between hosts and in the environment – transmission, zoonoses, animal reservoirs and vectors, entomology.
  • The innate and acquired immunity to virus infection, both at the cellular and host level, the activity of host restriction factors, and the countermeasures of virus evasion.
  • The molecular modelling of viral replication, virus structure, enzymology.
  • The population genetics and dynamics of virus and host –  molecular and clinical epidemiology and phylogeny, virus and host genomics and transcriptomics, determinants of virus and host susceptibility or resistance, adaptation and evolution.
  • The development of innovative antiviral approaches (antiviral compounds, vaccines, gene therapy).
  • The use of cutting-edge technology for virus discovery and to improve diagnostics.


Recent Distinctions :

  • Prize Canetti obtained by Nadia Naffakh in December 2018
  • Prize Lucien Tartois (Fondation de la Recherche Médicale) obtained by Felix Rey in November 2018
  • Marco Vignuzzi received the 2019 Richard Elliott Memorial Award by the European Society for Viral Zoonoses
  • Carla Saleh elected EMBO member in July 2020


Scientific Retreat of the Virology Department (Maintenon) – June 5th to 7th, 2019



Featured Publications