Skip to content
Main menu hidden.
Published: 2023-11-10

Unlocking secrets in RNA chemical modification during Salmonella infection

NEWS Molecular biologist Baptiste Bogard changed Paris for Berghem in Umeå and a position as ‘Excellence of Choice’ postdoctor in the labs of Teresa Frisan and Francesca Aguilo. He is currently working on the regulation of the host cell epitranscriptome in salmonella infection.

RNA modifications add a new layer of complexity to the regulation of gene expression

What is your academic background?

“I have a Diploma in technological studies with a special focus on biochemical and biological analyses where I took my first steps in clinical microbiology research. Then I pursued my academic education with a Bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a Master's degree in the same field with a special focus on RNA biology where I made my first steps in the field of RNA modifications before focusing during my Ph.D. on the role of small nucleolar RNAs in muscle differentiation.”

How did you end up in Northern Sweden and at Umeå University?

“First of all, after attaining my doctoral degree in Paris, I wanted to continue academic research on RNA modifications but outside of France. I saw the ad about the ‘Excellence of choice’ related to my ongoing project on the topic that I was looking for with, in addition, a particular focus on pathogenic bacteria that I found attractive. Then, concerning Umeå, I remembered that a few ancient classmates went to Umeå University doing an internship and enjoyed their time there. In addition to that, a member of my family recently explored the Scandinavian countries, and she loved the landscapes and life there. So, I was like “Hey, I will also probably enjoy my time here!”

What is your research focusing on?

“My research is about studying the regulation of the epitranscriptomic mark m6A in the host cell during salmonella infection. Briefly, I will explore whether the presence of genotoxin-producing bacteria (here salmonella expressing the typhoid toxin) can modulate the epitranscriptome of mRNA and use it as a strategy to reshape the gene expression profile of the infected cells for their own benefits. Overall, my project aims to improve our knowledge of the pathogenicity of genotoxin-producing bacteria. It is a really exciting project as on the one hand, I already know the field of RNA modifications but on the other hand, the field of fundamental microbiology research is completely new to me, meaning I have a lot of new and interesting things to learn!”

What is challenging and rewarding respectively with being a researcher?

“I think the most difficult part of being a researcher is to accept that sometimes some experiments or ideas will fail even if you know you did your best but you cannot let it go as you need to find a solution to try to overcome the problem. But, to oppose this, we have the chance to be part of a community where other researchers have faced these same challenges and are willing to help you, support you, and provide new insights that will change your way of thinking and enable you to progress in your project. In the end, this is very satisfying to see that the work that has contributed to increasing scientific knowledge contains small bits of each person who helped you to get there.”

What are your first impressions of Umeå and its university?

"For sure the biggest difference between Umeå and Paris is the noise! I really like how it is quieter here. People look more calm and less stressed. It is also amazing with all the forests and parks that are just next door, it does not feel like you are in the city. I have been here since September but what I can say about Umeå University is that it is well-organized and very cozy."

What is your driving force to do research in life science?

“I really like science in general. But what is really fascinating about life science and more specifically molecular biology is that we look at mechanisms at the molecular level that can have a huge impact on cell physiology or cell fate. So, trying to identify these mechanisms and understand them is trying to understand how humans or life became what they are.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“I would like to stay in academia but go back to France as a permanent researcher.”

Short facts about Baptiste

Coming from: France
Me in three words: Enthusiastic, curious, motivated
What is exciting with your research subject? RNA modifications add a new layer of complexity to the regulation of gene expression
Interests: Playing football and video games, skiing, watching movies or TV shows 
Streaming: Podcasts on science (astronomy, philosophy)
Unexpected talent: Gifted in cooking and baking
Miss from home: I know it is a cliché from a French person but cheese and wine
The first Swedish word I learnt: Hej!
On my bucket list: See the Aurora Borealis, visit Stockholm and the rest of Sweden
Favourite holiday spot: The Alpes in France

For more information, please contact:

Baptiste Bogard