We are EMBL: Martin Pelosse on his role at the Eukaryotic Expression Facility
Martin Pelosse, Scientific Expert at EMBL Grenoble Eukaryotic Expression Facility, explains the platform’s role in supporting the site’s cutting-edge research activities and its future applications
At the Eukaryotic Expression Facility (EEF), it is possible to grow insects and mammalian cells to produce proteins, using viruses as vectors for genetic information. This entire platform, supervised by Group Leader Marco Marcia, is dedicated to protein expression and genetic engineering, from small to large scales. This facility, where researchers can work with insect as well as mammalian cell systems, is open to all users at EMBL Grenoble and to local institutes. Here, Martin Pelosse, Scientific Expert at the EEF, shares more about his life at EMBL, what inspires him at work, and some future perspectives.
What does your role as Scientific Expert at the Eukaryotic Expression Facility entail?
I keep the platform up and running by ensuring that our protocols are up to date, while taking care of all of the necessary equipment. At the same time, I train and support new users and scientists in their experiments, providing expertise in molecular biology and protein expression. A great part of my job involves providing guidance in experimental design and troubleshooting to the EEF users.
One of my priorities is also implementing new methodologies that match the needs of EMBL Grenoble research groups. For example, since I arrived, I have implemented transposon-based systems for engineering mammalian cells, alongside new Cas9 genome editing techniques. To benchmark these new protocols, I work closely in collaboration with EMBL scientists across all sites and help them with pilot experiments. Last but not least, I make sure to actively communicate the platform activities by attending in-house and external meetings, poster sessions, and presentations.
How do you see your work evolving over the next few years?
I’m always keeping my eye on new techniques as this is an ever-evolving field, and I will continue to add them to the platform’s toolbox so that EMBL Grenoble can keep growing as a cutting-edge research centre. That’s why I am part of P4EU, a network that brings together 234 laboratories primarily but not exclusively located in Europe to coordinate technology development in protein and cell engineering. Being more open to external users and increasing the number of scientists benefitting from the EEF expertise are also some things I’m envisioning for the future of the platform.
I’m also involved in organising a yearly event in Grenoble focused on genome editing that features keynote speakers and fosters connection with interested scientists to exchange knowledge and expertise on the topic. I want to keep supporting the organisation of events like this and reach as many interested people as possible, on the local and the international scale.
What’s the best part about working at EMBL?
I like engaging with people. Training personnel is part of my job, and because of that, I’m always meeting new scientists and students and getting to know about their research projects, which is always super interesting. The young and dynamic international environment at EMBL Grenoble also feels very inclusive. The EMBL network is great too – I like that science here is not limited to the unit you’re based at, but there’s a strong interconnection, and collaboration is encouraged among all sites.
Where do you find the inspiration to solve problems at work?
My colleagues – discussions with them always bring new perspectives and alternative ideas that eventually lead to solutions. With this approach, problems stop being issues and instead become challenges to overcome together. Music also plays a great role in my problem solving, as it helps me release stress and think more clearly.
When did you decide you wanted to be a scientist?
I’ve always been interested in understanding how things work – machines, tools, the human body. And what is more fascinating than life itself?
For me, studying biochemistry was somehow the ultimate way to understand how life really works, starting from the smallest of scales. Every day now I’m investigating living mechanisms at the molecular and even atomic level. One of my biggest passions as a kid was playing with Lego blocks, and molecular biology feels like a building block game to me, as every piece of information that builds life is packed into our DNA. So, this aspect of my personality has been with me since my childhood and contributed to my desire of becoming a scientist.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love being with my wife and kids. Travelling is a great part of my life as well, and I have a passion for sports, from skiing to bouldering and climbing. Do you know that they call the bouldering routes ‘problems’? In this sport, you have all of these problems to solve, and you really have to think well about your next move to be able to complete the route. I see it as a mental sport as much as a physical one, and I think it keeps my scientific thinking in shape too.