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Nassima CHOUAKI BENMANSOUR

MD, PharmD, PhD

    Emergency Department, Laveran Hospital - Marseille

AP-HM | Service de Santé des Armées

Today, the Covid-19 pandemic serves as an eye-opener, once again demonstrating the strength of the Marseille Immunopôle collective

My journey in science began with studies in pharmacy in Oran, Algeria, with an experience at China Pharmaceutical University in Nankin, China. An attraction for research in immunology then led me to Paris for a Master’s degree between the University Paris 7, the Pasteur Institute and the Bichat Hospital, and to Marseille for an academic PhD at the Immunology Center of Marseille-Luminy (CIML). During my graduate training, I took part in an exchange program with Harvard Medical School. That’s where I understood how I wanted to practice science: in a common environment between clinicians and researchers that would facilitate their daily exchanges.

 

I have since trained as a medical doctor to focus on clinical research and am currently doing my residency in the emergency department of the Laveran Hospital in Marseille. The general mobilization that followed the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic quickly put us on the frontline, particularly to manage the flow of patients attending the second screening center in Marseille.

 

By cross-referencing in real time what was published in the literature and clinical data of Covid-19 patients, I understood that it was an overactive immune system, rather than the virus itself, that was causing multiple failures in the severe forms of the disease. It seemed necessary to explore the immunological profiles of patients well beyond our department. I therefore joined Explore Covid-19, a project between the AP-HM, the Laveran Hospital, Innate Pharma and the Marseille Immunopôle cluster, founded by immunology players in Marseille to accelerate translational research in the fields of immuno-oncology and inflammatory diseases. The preliminary observational study of this two-part project has already been partially completed. We are now moving on to the second part, a clinical trial named FORCE, to evaluate the ability of an anti-C5aR antibody to stop the immune storm that threatens the lives of some patients. Today, the Covid-19 pandemic serves as an eye-opener, once again demonstrating the strength of the Marseille Immunopôle collective.

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