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Maria Carla Saleh was born in Argentina, where she finished her Masters degree in Biology at the National University of Cordoba. She obtained her PhD on Cellular and Molecular Physiopathology at the University of Paris 6, and then went to University of California, San Francisco, where she worked as a postdoc focusing on antiviral immunity. In 2008, Prof Saleh secured a position as a junior group leader at the Institut Pasteur of Paris (France) and was tenured in 2013. Insects have an immune system that allows them to remain asymptomatic when they are infected with a virus that is deadly when transmitted to humans. How is this possible and how does this immune system work? Can we manipulate this immune system and therefore prevent humans from getting infected by insect bites? With her ERC projects, Prof. Saleh  aims to answer these questions by using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model insect to explore our research. With her team, she goes on to develop a unique combination of basic science and bioinformatics that allow them to tackle several projects in ill-studied areas of insect antiviral immunity, as well as to investigate key aspects of pre-existing and often incomplete paradigms on host-pathogen biology. Their scientific strategy offers new perspectives on emerging viral disease transmission and will inspire a new way of thinking about immunity.

Photo: © Institut Pasteur