Professor Pascale Cossart

The Jung Foundation for Science and Research is awarding the cellular microbiologist Professor Pascale Cossart, PhD, from Paris with the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine. The medal is a symbolic recognition of her impressive lifetime achievements in the study of bacterial infections and dissemination. It is connected with prize money of 30,000 euros, which Cossart can give to a young, up-and-coming scientist of her choice.

Understanding mechanisms underlying bacterial infections

Pathogenic bacteria infect the host organism via the gastrointestinal or urinary tract, the airways and also the skin in the event of injury, and once there can cause a whole variety of diseases and even death. But how does a bacterium choose its host, how does it attack and how does it ultimately manage to colonise it successfully? The research findings of Professor Pascale Cossart, PhD, highlighted a series of basic mechanisms and concepts underlying interactions between pathogenic bacteria and their host cells and thus revealed new treatment options for infectious diseases. The Frenchwoman is regarded as the co-founder of the discipline that she named Cellular Microbiology. With her long-term and intensive research work she has contributed to the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes being one of the best studied pathogenic microorganisms and one of the most important model organisms in infection biology today.

Cossart heads up the research group "Bacteria-cell interactions unit" (Inserm U604) at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. She is also "Secrétaire perpétuel" (lifetime secretary) at the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France (French Academy of Sciences). She has been awarded many times for her research achievements. The awards include the Robert Koch Award in 2007, the Louis-Jeantet Prize in 2008 and the Balzan Prize in 2013. This is how the 68-year-old scientist explains one of the recipes for her success: "I have always gone my own way, and have never let myself be guided by fashions or trends". She likes working with motivated people and knows how to inspire motivation and enthusiasm in the people around her. In her spare time, Pascale Cossart is devoted to her family, to her friends and also loves to spend time gardening or playing tennis.