Pascal Meyer, DNA Insight Reader

Half a smile on his lips, appears on the screen. He’s not familiar with the spotlight, obviously, but he’s happy. Nothing floated either, as if he was still hesitant to believe it. After many years spent in the shadows, he was suddenly pushed to the front of the stage, honored with a prestigious international award, but he is belatedly.

On September 9, Frenchman Pascal Mayer, “Biophysicist at Heart”According to him, he received with two British biochemist Shankar Balasubramanian and biophysicist David Kleinman Breakthrough Award in Life Sciences. Created in 2012 by the founders of Facebook, Google and 23andMe, this award is “Capital Advances in the Life Sciences”, which serves as a waiting room for the Nobel, and is also one of the best awards given. Thus, each group of prize winners receives approximately $3 million Three times more than Nobel.

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This trio was special to “The invention that revolutionized both biology and medicine, and beyond, our societies: in short, large-scale parallel sequencing of DNA, also known as ‘new generation sequencing’”, Rafael Rodriguez, Research Director of the National Center for Scientific Research in Cancer Chemistry at the Institut Curie (Paris), and close associate of Shankar Balasubramanian, is excited. This disruptive technology More important in my opinion than the internet or the genome-editing tool Crispr-Cas9, The scholar still marvels, remembering that before learning to write one must know how to read.

Why is this method of reading DNA so innovative? Using very little biological material, it enables ultra-fast, economical, reliable and accurate genome decoding. “Thanks to this tool, we better understand life, the evolution of species and the environment around us, Rafael Rodriguez continues. We can quickly identify mutations involved in cancers and genetic diseases, develop personalized medicines, and resolve them cold cases… With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was he, always, who allowed us to identify and sequence the virus and new variants. “

revolutionary tool

For Pascal Mayer, this medal was not obtained. In May, only the British duo, for this “revolutionary” gadget, was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize 2020 from the Finnish Academy of Technology. The French have been forgotten. “When I said I was one of the inventors of this technology, no one believed me!”, trust. Obvious but not bitter, having finally been recognized, at the age of 58.

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