Prof. David Pérez-Morga, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Thermo Fisher Scientific is proud to present our 2018 Image Contest Grand Prize Winner: Prof. David Pérez-Morga. “Tangled up in blue” won David a Canon DSLR Camera kit. Congratulations, David!
African trypanosomes (15-20 µm long, turquoise), which are responsible for human sleeping sickness in Western and Central Africa, are shown here intertwined with red blood cells (5 µm, red) in a blood capillary (green). The structural and physiological
beauty of these protozoa sometimes make us forget the deadly package that they harbor. At the peak of the infection, the parasite density is upwards of several million trypanosomes per milliliter of blood; this image clearly portraits the
difficult relationship between the parasite and the human immune system. Studying this relationship has been the subject of my group’s research for many years at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium. Recently, this led us to
engineer therapeutic proteins that kill pathogenic trypanosomes in vivo (see Fontaine et al. Nature Microbiol. 2017; 2:1500-6). Trypanosomes have been engaged in an evolutionary arms race for thousands of years in Africa, thereby shaping our
own stronghold of immunological defenses and fundamentally impacting human evolution. Our team at the electron microscopy facility has worked on dozens of subjects over the years, but trypanosomes are still one of our favorites. Daniel Monteyne,
Ariel Talavera, Marjorie Vermeersch and I (below, right to left) probably have one of the nicest jobs on earth, looking into infinitely small wonders. We marvel, each time, at how much detail we as a species can now see after starting with
just our curiosity and a few stone tools.
About the Winner:
David Pérez-Morga is a professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium, where he heads the laboratory of Molecular Parasitology and the electron microscopy facility at the Center for Microscopy and Molecular Imaging (CMMI). There,
they provide services in TEM, SEM, ET and cryo-EM. He grew up in Oaxaca, southern Mexico, and did his undergraduate and graduate studies at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico City. (At the ENCB and CINVESTAV, respectively.)
David first learned EM during his postdoctoral work at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) under the guidance of his dear mentor Paul T. Englund (RIP). When he is not doing science, David enjoys time with his kids, reading, cycling with his teammates of in cyclo veritas and traveling. He resides
in the beautiful Brabant-Wallon countryside.
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