Topics » Jacques Ravel & Pascal Int. Research Chair

Dr. Jacques Ravel outside the Institut Pasteur

Jacques Ravel Named Blaise Pascal International Research Chair

 Research Focuses on the Intersection of Women’s Health and the Microbiome

Jacques Ravel, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Associate Director for IGS, has been named a 2015-2017 Blaise Pascal International Research Chair, one of the most prestigious European science awards. He is spending this year working at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, and divides his time between Paris and Baltimore.

“Being able to work at the Institut Pasteur, and with Dr. Sansonetti is a fantastic opportunity. For over 100 years, the Institut has been a leader in the battle against infectious diseases,” said Dr. Ravel. “Having immersed myself in genomics over the past 15 years, the Chair Blaise Pascal is giving me a rare opportunity to re-engage myself with my original research focus in microbiology and interact with global leaders in microbiology, cell biology and immunology focus on the role of the human microbiome in infectious diseases.”

Dr. Ravel focuses on the human microbiome and its role in women’s health. In his research, he develops and applies modern genomic technologies and systems biology approaches to decipher the functional relationships between the human host, the microbiome and susceptibilities to obstetrics and gynecological outcomes and sexually transmitted infections.

While at the Institut Pasteur, Dr. Ravel is working with Philippe J. Sansonetti, MS, MD, Professor of Microbiology at the Pasteur Institute and the Collège de France in Paris, and a member of the U.S. National Academies of Science, and a microbiologist who is interested in intestinal pathogens. Working with Dr. Sansonetti, Dr. Ravel will address the following central question: “Can a pathogen, to be successful, become a commensal, by subverting the fine-tuned balance between the host and the microbiome?” The pair are examining how some harmful microbes find niches within hosts, and transform themselves into more “friendly” bacteria. In particular, they will try to better understand how Chlamydia, which is pathogenic in some parts of the body, can live in the gastrointestinal tract without triggering problems.

The Blaise Pascal Chairs were established in 1996 to honor foreign scientists in all disciplines. The award is named for the eminent 17th-century French genius, Blaise Pascal, who was a mathematician, philosopher, inventor and physicist. Dr. Ravel is one of two Blaise Pascal Chairs selected this year.