Researcher biography

I have a chemical engineer degree from the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie de Montpellier, France, from which I graduated in 2001. During my engineering degree, in 2000, I visited the laboratory of Tom Blundell located in Cambridge UK where I discovered the fascinating area of structural bioinformatics. I further developed my taste for the molecular modelling of biological complexes during my PhD by studying receptor-antigen complexes, including antibody-antigen binary complexes and T cell receptor-MHC-peptide ternary complexes at the ImMunoGeneTics information system® (IMGT) in Montpellier, France. My PhD research resulted in the development of databases and algorithms, including IMGT/3Dstructure-DB, which is specialised in the analysis of NMR and crystallographic structures of antigen receptors. Since its creation in 1989 by Professor Marie-Paule Lefranc, IMGT is actively developed resource in immunology and has high popularity among immunologists and clinicians. In 2007, I was awarded a prestigious Australian Reasearch Council Postdoctoral fellowship to undertake research in the laboratory of Professor David Craik at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. My research since then focus on the study of the interaction of active peptides with various receptors, including the neural nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and serine proteases. I am particularly interested in characterising the energetics involved in molecular interactions, which is fundamental to optimise active peptide drug leads. Professor Craik is a world leader in the study of a large family of plant cyclic proteins, the cyclotides, which have an unparalleled stability that we try to arness to create new drugs. My favorite topic is the study of toxins produced by the carnivorous marine cone snails. Cone snails produce one of the most potent, neuro active venom known to man, and attracting considerable interests for the development of drugs, one of them being already used in the clinic for the treatment of intractable pain. My main contributions in this research area included a popular database called ConoServer (http://www.conoserver.org) and several theroretical studies of the specificity of cone snail toxins for neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes, which are involved in different aspects of cognition and memory. The scope of my research is mainly in theoretical computational studies and touch a wide range of subjects, from biophysics of molecular interactions to sequence analysis, databases, transcriptomics and proteomics. I also recently had significant contribution to UQ's teaching in Advanced Bioinformatics lectures, by undertaking ~50% of the lectures of this course.