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Helene Botella, winner of the AXA-Academy of Sciences prize based on her work in the involvement of zinc as a natural mechanism to fight against infections

In April 2012, the Academy of Sciences selected Helene Botella to receive the prestigious AXA-Academy of Sciences Prize. This prize annually rewards young researchers/first authors for contributing to major French scientific advances in biology.


Helene Botella (PhD) is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. This award recognizes her thesis work, carried out at the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology, Toulouse, and in particular, for her discovery of a novel mechanism of natural defenses against infections involving zinc. This metal, toxic in large doses, is used by cells of the immune system to kill microbes such as the tuberculosis bacillus or Escherichia coli. Published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe in September 2011, this discovery expands the horizons in the design of new therapeutic strategies and vaccine candidates.




Bacteria (Mtb in red) surrounded by zinc (FZ3 in green) inside a phagosome. Red and green are superimposed in ’overlay’ panel.

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the Academy of Sciences will organize a public meeting during which six major scientific advances awarded in biology will be presented by their authors, including the work of Helene Botella.

The official prize ceremony will be held later in the fall at the Institut de France, in Paris.


Contact : H. Botella, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York.