Thomas Marichal, winner of the Baillet Latour Biomedical Award


Thomas Marichal is the winner of the prestigious Baillet Latour Biomedical 2022 Prize (thematic). This prize of one million euros (over 5 years) will allow him to better understand the host mechanisms regulating tissue repair and immunopathological responses upon respiratory viral infections. Specifically, he will investigate the biology of an as-yet-unknown cell entity that emerges during the recovery phase of influenza and Covid-19 infections and likely orchestrates key immune and tissue repair responses, with the goal to provide solid foundations for novel myeloid cell-targeted approaches promoting health and preventing severe disease phenotypes.

The Baillet Latour Biomedical Award

Since its establishment over 40 years ago, the Fund has rewarded and supported biomedical research. To this end, it has incepted several prestigious Prizes, among which the International Health Prize or the Clinical Prize later replaced by the Grant for Medical Research. In order to amplify its impact in the biomedical field and to meet the actual challenges in R&D, the Fund has decided to redirect its support towards the development in Belgium of an ecosystem of high-level researchers to help accelerating the development of innovative research projects.
With the Baillet Latour Biomedical Award, the Baillet Latour Fund wishes to offer major support to basic, clinical or translational biomedical research in Belgium.
The Fund also wishes to strengthen the status and visibility of promising young researchers in Belgium and to support their development towards eminent independent research leaders in their field.
It additionally seeks to facilitate their grant applications to Belgian and European funding sources for their innovative research and intends to contribute to retaining promising new talents and to attract foreign ones.

The Baillet Latour Biomedical Award will be awarded to independent investigators of any nationality in the early phase of their career to conduct basic, translational or clinical biomedical research in Belgium and consolidate their independent research team or program. The Award amounts to 1,000,000 € over 5 years to support a research project.

The project

Atypical myeloid cells emerging during the recovery phase of respiratory viral infections: origin, identity, functions and regulation by tissue cues, host risk factors and chronic stress.

The lung is a vital organ that contributes to gas exchanges. It is particularly exposed to external threats, such as respiratory pathogens, pollutants and other airborne particles. Thus, the lung immune system needs to cope with those threats in order protect the host and maintain the organ structure and function. Sometimes, aberrant immune responses can occur and trigger the development of disorders such as asthma or severe forms of respiratory infections. Thomas Marichal has always been passionate about understanding the innate immune mechanisms involved in the maintenance of lung tissue homeostasis and in the regulation of immune-mediated respiratory diseases. By employing relevant disease models and human samples, he has discovered key drivers of asthma, as well as important innate protective cells that prevent development of asthma in healthy individuals. His work has been published in the most prestigious journals in the field of Immunology and Medicine and he has already obtained an impressive number of “excellence” labels for his achievements, including the Acteria Early Career Research Prize in Allergology (2015) and the Astra Zeneca Foundation Asthma Award (2018). Building on his expertise in the biology of myeloid cells (a lineage of innate immune cells), he is now using the most advanced tools and technologies to understand how myeloid cells interact with other tissue cells and what drives myeloid cell diversity and functional specificity, a prerequisite to elaborate novel therapeutic strategies for respiratory diseases.

Thomas Marichal

Thomas Marichal leads the laboratory of Immunophysiology (GIGA-I3). He is trained as a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and obtained a PhD in Immunology in 2011 from the University of Liège. He is also appointed as an Associate Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Liege since 2019.

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