5th de Duve Lecture: Watch the podcast!


How we raised the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes to the rank of a model system

Thursday, 14 December 2023 at 17:30 in auditorium A (Lacroix)

Lecture given by Professor Pascale COSSART (Institut Pasteur, Paris, France)

Pascale Cossart

Professor Pascale Cossart is widely regarded as a trailblazer in the field of Cellular Microbiology. After completing her studies in chemistry in Lille, France, and at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., USA, Pascale Cossart earned her PhD at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, ultimately becoming the head of the Bacteria-Cell Interactions unit there. Following her initial work on DNA-protein interactions and the underlying molecular specificities, she embarked on a pivotal journey in 1986 to investigate the molecular and cellular aspects of bacterial infections, with the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes serving as her primary model. Her research has resulted in numerous groundbreaking discoveries, notably shedding light on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that enable Listeria to breach the intestinal and feto-placental barriers. She has also elucidated key molecular and cellular factors facilitating the actin-based motility of the bacterium within host cells, along with uncovering novel mechanisms governing gene expression through RNAs. Notably, she discovered a thermo-sensor responsible for regulating the expression of virulence factors and, more recently, riboswitches implicated in antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, her work has revealed the regulatory role of cellular mitochondria in infection and identified several host post-translational modifications that influence infection, such as histone modifications. These findings have opened new avenues for developing strategies to combat bacterial infections.

The outstanding contributions of Pascale Cossart have been recognized by a number of international prizes such as the L'Oréal/Unesco award, the Robert Koch prize, the Jeantet prize, and the Balzan prize. She has also been elected as a member of several prestigious academies, including the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine in the USA, the Royal Society in the UK, and the French Academy of Sciences. Notably, she served as the Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences from 2016 to 2022. Presently, she holds the position of visitor at EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) in Heidelberg, Germany.