On March 29, 2023, Professor Yasmine Belkaid was appointed President of the Institut Pasteur by its Board of Governors for a six-year term. She will take office in January 2024.
A French Algerian born in Algiers in 1968, Professor Yasmine Belkaid is an internationally renowned scientist who has focused her research on the relationship between microbes and the immune system.
She began her scientific journey with training in infectious diseases at the Institut Pasteur, and her career has since encompassed a wide variety of fields including parasitology, microbiology, medical entomology and virology, as well as tissue immunity, the microbiome and human immunology.
She is currently Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Human Immunology, and founder and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Microbiome Program at NIH (Bethesda, Maryland, United States). Within NIAID, she has also developed the Department of Host Immunity and Microbiome.
The decision to appoint Professor Yasmine Belkaid as Institut Pasteur President follows a lengthy selection process that began in June 2021, conducted by a search committee chaired by Edith Heard, Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.
Following her appointment, Yves Saint-Geours, Chairman of the Institut Pasteur’s Board of Governors, stated: “With her scientific, medical and public health expertise, Yasmine Belkaid has the potential to lead innovative programs that will expand the Institut Pasteur’s international influence, capitalizing on its legacy, its interdisciplinary collaborations and its capacity to train future generations of scientists, including more women. This action is of particular importance in our highly competitive environment which presents so many global and multiscale challenges to the Institut Pasteur today.”
In her own words, Professor Yasmine Belkaid said: “As the next Institut Pasteur President, I aim to position the institute as a leading scientific research organization in life science and to strengthen its position in the surveillance, prevention and identification of emerging pathogens at an international level.”
Professor Yasmine Belkaid will succeed Professor Stewart Cole, whose term ends on January 1, 2024. She will become the second female scientist to hold this position and the 17th President of the Institut Pasteur since it was founded by Louis Pasteur in 1887.
Biography of Pr Yasmine Belkaid
Yasmine Belkaid, 54, was born in Algiers, Algeria. She graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biochemistry from the University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene in Algiers, as well as a Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) from Paris-Sud University. She completed a PhD in Immunology at Paris-Sud University and the Institut Pasteur in 1996, where she studied innate immune responses to Leishmania infection.
After her PhD, she moved to the United States in 1996 for a postdoctoral fellowship in intracellular parasite biology at NIAID’s Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases (NIH). In 2002, she joined the Molecular Immunology Division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Ohio) before returning to NIAID in 2005 as Head of the Mucosal Immunology Unit in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases.
Since 2005, she has occupied various positions at NIAID and NIH, and since 2021 she has led the Laboratory of Host Immunity and Microbiome at NIH.
Yasmine Belkaid has published more than 220 scientific papers on infection, immunity, immunology, microbiota and nutrition.
She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Robert Koch Prize (2021), the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2019), and the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Prize (2016).
She is a member of several scientific committees and advisory boards, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the Microbiome Technical Advisory Group at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH Anti-Racism Steering Committee, the American Society of Microbiology and the Genentech Scientific Resource Board.