Alexandre Persat wins Human Frontier Science Program grant

Alexandre Persat (credit: Alban Kakulya)

Alexandre Persat (credit: Alban Kakulya)

EPFL Professor Alexandre Persat has been awarded one of the 2020 Young Investigator Research Grants from the Human Frontier Science Program.

The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) is an international program of research support implemented by the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization based in Strasbourg, France. Funded by numerous countries’ research councils, the HFSP aims to promote intercontinental collaboration and training in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research focused on the life sciences.

Each year, the HFSP awards a number of Young Investigator Grants to for applicants within five years of establishing their independent research group and within ten years from their PhD. The grants are highly competitive and cover a number of cutting-edge, risky research projects under the umbrella theme “Complex mechanisms of living organisms”.

This year, one of the Young Investigator Grants has been awarded to Professor Alexandre Persat at EPFL’s Global Health Institute and Institute of Bioengineering. The winning project is titled “Ménage a trois: balancing predator-prey interactions in a host-microbiome-phageome ecosystem”, and was submitted in collaboration with Professor Carey Nadell at Dartmouth College in the US. The grant is one of eight given this year, out of over 700 applicants.

“Phages are viruses that infect bacteria,” explains Persat. “Our gastrointestinal tracts host large microbial populations known as the microbiota, but phages are also abundant, permanently preying on bacteria. In this project, we will try to understand how intestines can maintain a stable microbiome despite being under permanent attack by phages by bridging concepts from physics and evolutionary biology.”

HFSP press release