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© Jean-Claude Antoine
Leishmania mexicana amazonensis

About

Dr. Najma Rachidi is a senior Researcher and the leader of the molecular parasitology team in the PARSIG unit. Her team investigates Host-pathogen interactions to (i) understand how Leishmania survives in immune cells, which are designed to kill pathogens and (ii) find novel therapeutic strategies against Leishmaniasis. The team project has two axes: to study secreted Leishmania signalling proteins that act in “trans” to modulate the host cell phenotype, particularly Leishmania CK1.2; and to use this knowledge to develop novel strategies for anti-leishmanial drug therapy. Dr. Rachidi is author of 20 publications and published in prestigious journals such as Cell, Nature, Plos pathogen. Her research is well perceived as she raised 500k€ (ANR-TranSig, Labex, PTR) to fund her basic research. Moreover, she is an expert reviewer for several journals and funding agencies. Aside from research, Dr Rachidi is also teaching in master 1 and 2 at the UPMC, Sorbonne University and is a member of the teaching committee of the Master 2.

Team Project

Identify the mechanisms developed by Leishmania to survive into its host cell

and exploit these mechanisms for drug discovery

A common feature of the most successful intracellular pathogens is the efficient manipulation of their host cell; this is true for bacteria such as Mycobacterium as well as for eukaryotic parasites such as Leishmania. The manipulation of the host by Leishmania occurs mostly by exporting proteins into the host cell, either as free proteins or inside vesicles. To better understand host-Leishmania interactions, it is crucial to study these secreted proteins. As a signalling kinase released via exosomes, Leishmania Casein Kinase 1 (LmCK1.2) is the perfect candidate to understand how pathogens modify their host. We showed that LmCK1.2 is closely related to human CK1 and essential for intracellular parasite survival, suggesting that CK1.2 could phosphorylate host proteins to modulate macrophage functions. We are currently deciphering the functions of LmCK1.2 in the parasite particularly the mechanisms responsible for its export. We are also investigating the role the LmCK1.2 in the mammalian host and how this parasitic kinase can subvert its host cell. Our research findings will be translated into the development of novel anti-leishmanial strategies such as interfering with parasitic protein release or with host protein to restore the host cell anti-microbial potential.

Website: http://www.transig.org/  

Projects

CV

EDUCATION

  • 2018: “Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches”, Paris Descartes University, France
  • 1998:   PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, USTL-Montpellier II, France.
  • 1994:   Master degree in Biochemistry and Applied Biology at the University of Caen, and microbiology and in Food Science at the university of Montpellier II, France.
  • 1992:   Bachelor degree in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Caen.
  • 1990:   Technical degree in Applied Biology at the University of Technology in Caen.

FIELD OF EXPERTISE

  • Parasitology, Infection diseases, Host-pathogen interactions and Translational research.

RESEARCH and PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • 2015-now. Senior researcher and Team leader of Molecular parasitology, PARSIG Unit, Institut Pasteur & INSERM U1201, Paris.
  • 2017. Visiting Scientist at IP Shanghai, China
  • 2012-2015. Researcher, PARSIG Unit, Institut Pasteur & INSERM U1201, Paris.
  • 2009-2011. Researcher, USR3151, station biologique de Roscoff, CNRS, Roscoff.
  • 2006-2009. Postdoc, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, Unit of Cell Division. University of Manchester, UK.
  • 1999-2005. Postdoc, School of Life Sciences, Division of Gene Expression and Regulation. Laboratoiry of Prof. M.J.R. Stark. University of Dundee, UK.
  • 1998-1999. Lecturer, ENSA-Montpellier. Laboratoire de Biochimie Métabolique et de Technologie, IPV-INRA Montpellier.

SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES, RESPONSABILITIES & EXPERTISES

  • 20 publications, Hirsch h index: 12 (total citations: 2429).
  • Scientific coordination: 2014-2018: ANR-TranSig, Trans-signalling: A novel mechanism of Leishmania host cell immune evasion through the release of parasite signalling proteins.
  • Scientific co-coordination: 2012-2016: ANR-TransLeish (www.transleish.org), “Discovery of druggable protein kinases in the protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani using hit compounds identified by phenotypic screening”.
  • Collaborations : Laurent Meijer (ManRos, Roscoff), Joachim Clos (Hambourg), Uwe Knippschild (Ulm), Pascal Marchand (Nantes), Sandrine Cojean (Paris Sud), Damarys Loew (Institut Curie) & Florent Dingli (Institut Curie).
  • Member of organising committee : Labex IBEID international symposium : Can one anticipate the next emerging infectious diseases in Europe?, Paris (2014). PIV international conference: CRISPR in parasitology, Paris(2018).
  • Member of the editorial board of « Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology ».
  • Reviewer for PLoS one, Medchemcomm, cellular microbiology, Biochemical pharmacology, PLoS NTD, Molecules, Experimental parasitology, journal of cellular biochemistry, and ACS infectious diseases, AAC, Molecular Microbiology.
  • Grant reviewer for CAPES-COFECUB, Fwo and Fiocruz-Pasteur. Member of PhD theses jury: 3.
  • Responsabilities: member of the bureau of the “collège chercheur de l’Institut Pasteur”.
  • Supervision of 9 students, 4 PhD students (3 in co-supervision), 2 postdocs, 1 senior scientist, 1 technician and 1 engineer.

AWARDS-FUNDINGS

  • 2012-2016: Co-coordinator ANR TranLeish consortium.
  • 2014-2018: Coordinator ANR TranSig consortium.
  • 2015: PhD grant from the Labex IBEID.
  • 2002-2005: Fellow of the Welcome Trust (UK).
  • 1994-1998: Fellow of the Ministry of Education and Research (France).

TEACHING ACTIVITIES

  • Since 2013: Lecturer in Master 1, Basic and medical parasitology/mycology, UPMC Sorbonne universities & Lecturer in Master 2, parasitology, UPMC Sorbonne universities.
  • 2013-2015: Lecturer in Master 1, UE Agents infectieux, University of Versailles.
  • 2015: Sanofi parasitology training, invited as an expert in drug discovery for Leishmaniasis. 2016-2018: Tutoring PhD student.
  • Since 2012: Member of the coordination team of the Master 2 of sciences and technologies, option molecular and cellular biology, UPMC, Sorbonne universities, headed by Dominique Mazier.
  • 2017: Lecturer at the international course “Teaching Asia Pacific Pasteur Institute Network (TAPPIN)”, Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, China.

Publications

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