I got my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Liège (Belgium), where I became a permanent researcher in 2005. In 2013, I moved to the Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) as a team leader. In a nutshell, I moved from a mass spectrometry research lab where I was studying all fundamental aspects of the technique that are important for deciphering interactions between biomolecules to a nucleic acids research lab where I started my independent group on nucleic acids biophysical characterization (using mostly, well, mass spectrometry of course!). What I love in my new team is that I can now apply this technique in which I became a recognized expert to some of the hottest biological problems!
About the lab
My new team “BiophyMS” grew rapidly. After two years, already 5 post-docs and 2 PhD students joined (originating from France, Belgium, Italy, Lebanon, Bangladesh…). We also regularly attract foreign PhD students who come a few months training in mass spectrometry, specifically because we are one of the few (and hopefully the best) experts in MS of nucleic acids complexes. The team is interdisciplinary, gathering physical and analytical chemists, biochemists, engineers, and computational chemists. Our values are open mindedness, continuous improvement of ourselves, cooperation, and that research can be both serious and fun!
About the project
Project 1: Characterizing structural and energetic aspects of aptamer-metabolite complexes by mass spectrometry will present several challenges: (1) metabolites are small molecules bound to the aptamer by only a few non-covalent interactions, and we will need to preserve these complexes and quantify them, in biologically relevant conditions. (2) Moreover the function is linked to conformational rearrangements, and measuring the mass alone will not suffice, therefore we will ion mobility spectrometry to reveal these conformational changes. The newly developed methods can help screening RNA libraries with regard to ligand binding, or to screen small molecule libraries with regard to binding to a specific RNA sensor.