2014 FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award honours Pascale Cossart
Heidelberg, 18 February 2014 – EMBO and FEBS announce Pascale Cossart, a world-renowned bacteriologist and Professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, as the winner of the 2014 FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award.
Professor Cossart receives the award for her outstanding contributions to the study of how bacteria infect human and other cells, her active role in encouraging cooperation between different disciplines in the life sciences, and her support and mentoring of young scientists.
The FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of a female researcher in molecular biology over the previous five years. Winners of the award are role models who inspire future generations of women in science.
Cossart has studied in detail how the infectious bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, a deadly food-borne pathogen, infects cells and leads to disease (for example, encephalitis, bacteremia, and gastroenteritis). Cossart and colleagues were the first to work out how Listeria monocytogenes enters and takes over cells that it infects. Her work has helped to build up a comprehensive picture of the genetic and biochemical processes that make this organism so effective and lethal.
“Her work has provided an incredible foundation for the study of how microorganisms infect cells and disrupt the essential processes needed in a healthy cell,” said Julian Davies, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia.
Upon hearing of her distinction, the award winner said: “I am really happy. This prize is very different from any other award. It comes from EMBO and FEBS which means a lot. It not only recognizes scientific achievements but also social behavior and engagement in the scientific community. I truly feel honoured and encouraged to go ahead.”
The French scientist has been an inspiring mentor and supporter of younger scientists, including women, throughout her career. “Science has become increasingly competitive over the years and it is important to encourage young scientists to pursue their efforts to have a productive and also happy scientific career,” said Cossart. She is also highly engaged with the international community of microbiologists. Cossart has published more than 300 papers and has served or serves on numerous committees and editorial boards. She was a member of the editorial board of FEBS Letters from 2002 to 2008 and a member of the advisory editorial board of The EMBO Journal from 1996 to 2008. “Her unfailing ability to pursue important biological problems and, at the same time, support her colleagues mark her out as one of the best scientists of her generation,” stated her colleague Carmen Buchrieser, Head of the Unité Biologie des Bactéries Intracellulaires at the Institut Pasteur.
The 2013 FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award of 10,000 euros will be presented to Pascale Cossart on 2 September at the FEBS–EMBO Anniversary Conference in Paris, France, where she will give a special lecture. Nominations for the 2014 FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award close on 15 October 2014. For more information, please visit: http://www.embo.org/policy-and-society/women-in-science-award.html or http://www.febs.org/our-activities/awards/febs-embo-women-in-science-award.
Pascale Cossart studied chemistry at the Université Lille and completed a Master of Science degree in Chemistry at Georgetown University in the United States in 1971. She obtained her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Paris in 1977 (University Paris Diderot) and pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institut Pasteur.
Cossart is currently Professor and Head of the Unité des Interactions Bactéries Cellules at the Institut Pasteur. In 1998, she received the Richard Lounsberry Prize and the L’Oreal/UNESCO Award for Women in Science. Cossart was awarded the 2013 Balzan Prize for infectious diseases: basic and clinical aspects in 2013 for her seminal discoveries on the molecular biology of pathogenic bacteria and their interaction with host cells. The French scientist is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, the German Leopoldina, the American National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of the United Kingdom. In 2007 she received the Robert Koch Prize and in 2008 the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine. She is a European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant awardee and has served as a Panel Member of the ERC since 2008. Cossart was a member of the FEBS Advanced Courses Committee from 2008 to 2009. She has served as elected member of EMBO since 1995 and as a member of EMBO Council since 2010.