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The Debiopharm Life Sciences Award Goes to Dr Lluis Quintana-Murci for his Novel and Original Research on the Human Evolutionary Genetics of Infection
Date:9/3/2009

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, September 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Debiopharm Group, SA (Debiopharm), a Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical group of companies with a focus on the development of prescription drugs that target unmet medical needs, today presented the 'Debiopharm Life Sciences Award' to Dr Lluis Quintana-Murci from the Institut Pasteur in France, for his outstanding innovative research in the emerging field of evolutionary genetics of infection. Funded by Debiopharm, the ceremony took place at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) during the EPFL School of Life Sciences Inaugural Symposium. Dr Quintana-Murci and his institute received a total of CHF 100'000.

Dr Quintana-Murci leads the research unit of "Human Evolutionary Genetics" within the Department of Genomes and Genetics at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. His work focuses on understanding the mechanisms of host defence and infection in the natural setting, namely how pathogens have exerted selective pressures on human genes involved in immunity or host-pathogen interactions. In the past, scientists have used cellular and molecular biology, immunology or classical genetics to study the biology and immunology of infection. Dr Quintana-Murci has used a novel approach called "evolutionary genetics of infection" that has helped in the understanding of how pathogens have contributed to shape the human genome. A direct consequence of his work is the identification of a number of genes that are the key players of host defence against infection.

"We were impressed by the work of Dr Quintana-Murci and his colleagues," said Dr Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, President and Founder of Debiopharm Group. "He has taken the study of host-pathogen interactions to a higher level, where the pathogen is now recognised as a key driver of genetic selection. His novel and original approach of studying infection biology may have direct implications in the development
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