Mark Elliott, veterinarian turned virus catcher


Mark Elliott, Chief Lab

Virus hunters don’t always have a good reputation. To reveal the nugget—the most pathogenic, the most contagious, that will make the best scientific journals drool—she is said to be ready for anything, or almost. Elbowing, pulling the blanket over them, carpeting from under the opponent’s feet, even taking some liberties with health security… Mark Elliott isn’t that kind. Of course, he likes to wander, to go to assembly sites and to collaborate with the Pasteur Institutes in Asia or Africa with which he has been collaborating, from his Parisian parent company, for fifteen years. Admittedly, he considers himself a competitor. After his discovery, in 2021, of the bat virus closest to SARS-CoV-2 identified so far, he admitted that it prompted his entire team to We are working hard to publish as soon as possible.. No doubt they are being questioned by American cowboys. But during the release of the article triumph in naturein February 2022, never failed to say that nothing so far indicated a relationship between the pathogen and the cause of the epidemic, which was later confirmed. Especially insist on “First Merit of Laotian Teams”. Not really a wild west viral habit.

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A little flavor of revenge

“a matter of justice”he said simply. But also temperament. In fact, Mark Elliott doesn’t quite feel like a virus researcher. “Hunter suits me better.”, He laughs. No doubt it must be seen as an allusion to his passion for fly fishing, which led him to buy a house in Loeser. A little revenge flavor too. “When he arrived at the Pasteur Institute in 2008, some felt that using high-throughput sequencing to discover pathogens was more of a power hammer than an exact science.”And He recalls Professor Marc Lequette, who welcomed him into his laboratory. The interested party has fun. “Those who laughed at our methods said we were going hunting. That we didn’t make preconceived assumptions. Nothing could be more false. We don’t test just anywhere. You have to know the terrain. And then, you have to know how to read the sequences that come out of the The computer, to identify those that may or may not be of interest. As one learns to read a river. We do all this.”

We are a team of twelve people from the Pathogen Detection lab. “It may sound like a cliche, but it’s really a team effort. I am the conductor of the orchestra. Without the instrumentalists, there is no music.”And This insists a lover of opera and songs Georges Brassens. “I”, he keeps for the past, for childhood in Morbihan, for preparatory classes in Rennes.

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