A PhD student in Dr. Andrés Finzi’s laboratory, Jérémie Prévost, is the recipient of the 2020 Uta von Schwedler Prize, an award highly coveted in the retrovirology community. The occasion also marks the first time a Canadian has received this distinction.
Created in 2012 in honour of the well-known virologist Uta von Schwedler, who passed away in 2011, this prize is awarded annually to a student for their outstanding dissertation research in retrovirology.
Jérémie Prévost’s doctoral research interest focuses on antibody immune response against one of the strains of the virus responsible for AIDS, HIV-1.
We know that the protein Env, located on the surface of the virus, allows the virus to enter a healthy cell and infect it. Once this step has been taken, the host cell bears a copy of the Env protein on its surface, a viral signature that antibodies recognize. To avoid being spotted and, ultimately, destroyed, the virus hides this protein and changes the protein’s shape.
Jérémie Prévost’s research work has shown that the Env protein can adopt different shapes, which can affect the efficacy of the immune response and, ultimately, the efficacy of vaccines being developed worldwide.
“It’s truly an honour to receive this very prestigious, highly competitive international award. It’s proof of the quality of the HIV research being conducted in Canada, especially in Quebec. It shows that we can compete with big laboratories in the United States and Europe. All this would never have been possible without the exceptional support of my research director, Dr. Andrés Finzi, who helped me develop my scientific qualities and build my research skills,” stated Jérémie Prévost.
The prize, which comes with a US$1,250 cash award, will be presented on May 18th during the Cold Spring Harbor Meeting on Retroviruses. Given current circumstances, the meeting will exceptionally be held virtually this year.