Magali Mathieu

Structural biologist at Sanofi

Sanofi has been doing structural biology studies at the ESRF for a very long time and I’ve been working with the team here to collect data for over 20 years. We’ve had many joint discussions on how to overcome obstacles, find solutions, and optimise processes so we can all move forwards together. That collaboration has given rise to friendships over the years. I’ve used X-rays since I started my PhD and they are a vital part of my research today. It’s clear that without synchrotron radiation we wouldn’t be getting the same results.  I’m head of one of the Structural Biology and Biophysics groups at Sanofi in Paris. We study mainly protein / ligands complexes looking at how they interact. Once we’ve found a promising molecule we help optimize it to make it druggable, i.e. to make it a potential candidate for new drug development. With the automated beamlines at the ESRF, we can send in more samples than in the early days, and we get results much faster. Today, we are looking into using the new Cryo-EM facility where we hope to look at more complex and larger structures. We have a PhD based at the ESRF for this purpose.  In the industrial world, our research times are shorter and rely on different criteria to those present in academic research. That can be frustrating but I don’t regret my choice, as I know that successful projects will produce useful drugs. It’s an exciting environment in which we need to keep up with the latest advances in our scientific fields, for instance by working with the ESRF staff.

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