Name: Paul Franck ADJOU MOUMOUNI
Affiliation: Research Unit for Functional Genomics
Position: Foreign Visiting Researcher
Term: April 2019 to March 2020
Host researcher: Assistant Professor Rika UMEMIYA-SHIRAFUJI (English /Japanese)
Circumstances of application:
I received my Phd degree researching on tick and tick-borne pathogens and later worked as Post doc at the NRCPD from 2012 to 2019. The center has shaped me from a clinical veterinarian to a seasoned epidemiologist with deep understanding of epidemiology, diagnostic and control of ticks and the diseases they cause. After completing my Post doc, I wanted to complete my skills by getting more knowledge on tick biology. The NRCPD is worldwide known for its expertise in ticks and tick-borne diseases (T&TBD) research, hence it was definitely the best place for me to get such knowledge. The call for Visiting Foreign Researcher positions offered me the opportunity to reach my goal. I applied, was selected and could join the team of Assit. Prof Umemiya-Shirafuji who is well known for her groundbreaking works on tick biology.
Research activity in NRCPD:
Currently, researches on anti-tick vaccines are one the leading strategies for T&TBD control. My project aimed at identifying and characterizing a tick antigen that could be an efficient anti-tick vaccine for livestock. I focused on Haemaphysalis longicornis, an extremely harmful tick species widely distributed in eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand and for which laboratory colonies have been maintained at the NRCPD. ATAQ, a recently identified tick protective antigen is the vaccine candidate I selected and researched on. During this year as Visiting Foreign Researcher, I characterized for the first time H. longicornis ATAQ protein (HlATAQ). The full length gene, contained a 1965 bp-long ORF coding for a predicted amino acid sequence 654 long with a putative signal peptide, transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. Hl ATAQ showed 6 full and 1 partial EGF-like domains and its closest Blastp match was Hyalomma marginatum marginatum ATAQ (53.43%). Apart of that project I also took part in the activities of the Tick biobank project of the NRCPD, such as tick hunting, tick vaccine evaluation and maintenance of tick colonies.
Studying and working at the NRCPD gave me enough knowledge on pathogens and diseases in general and tick biology, tick-borne pathogens and diseases in particular. I had the chance to work with talented researchers from different countries and culture. I have been exposed, through seminars, symposium and conferences to a wide range of scientific topics and this has made me confident to effectively face challenges related to the research, control of animal and human health problems. As human I have grown up to a world citizen, thanks to the international community that works in the NRCPD. This institution gave me the chance to join an international network of researchers that I am sure will be of use in the next step of my career.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to my supervisors and mentors: Assistant Professor UMEMIYA-SHIRAFUJI Rika, Professor XUENAN Xuan and Professor SUZUKI Hiroshi. I would also like to thanks the members of the Host Defense and Functional Genomics research groups, and all the staff of NRCPD for their friendship and support.