Hello there! My name is Mohammad Al Tarrass, a 2nd year Ph.D. student from Lebanon. In 2019, I arrived at Grenoble – France to pursue a double diploma Master’s program in Molecular Diagnostics and Healthy Living Technologies held between the Lebanese university and Université Grenoble Alpes. I performed a 6-month internship at the Biomics laboratory of the Interdisciplinary Research Institute of Grenoble, entitled: Study of DNA-dependent proteases as therapeutic targets in cancer, under the supervision of Maxim Balakirev. During my university studies, I always had a strong desire to become a researcher because of my deep interest in biology, more specifically molecular biology and cell signaling. I always tried to put the best of my abilities, especially during my internships, to learn and acquire the skills that are needed to become a successful researcher. Finally, my dream started becoming true as I started my Ph.D. in October 2019 at IRIG, Cancer biology and infection laboratory – BCI, part of the Biologie et Biotechnologies pour la Santé Unit, Biosanté UMR 1292 since 2021.
The subject I chose is entitled Deciphering BMP9/10 signaling and is under the supervision of Sabine Bailly and Claire Bouvard, and funded by the GRAL Labex. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) belong to a large family of growth factors that play multiple roles. Twelve years ago, our team identified BMP9 and BMP10 as key factors in vascular development. Although these ligands are known to exhibit their action through canonical Smad signaling pathway, mutations in same pathway are leading to two different and rare vascular diseases, Rendu-Osler disease (HHT) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The main aims of this project are to understand how mutations in the same pathway can lead to two different diseases, and try to discover new targets in this pathway to be able to propose new therapeutic approaches.
To achieve our goals, we are using mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics approach (EdyP laboratory), which is becoming one of the most widely used technology in the characterization of biomolecules, and a main approach in modern biology. Through this technology, I try to map the changes in the phosphoproteome of endothelial cells to see which pathways, specifically SMAD independent ones, are being altered following the treatment with BMP9/10. The topic of this project has captured my attention, as working on the investigation of a new BMP9/10 signaling pathway will set promising opportunities for the identification of new therapeutic approaches for rare vascular diseases.
As a scientist, this will allow me to acquire important knowledge in the vascular context and try to improve the health and lifestyle of patients that suffer from such rare and poorly characterized diseases. In the context of this project, I am having a great opportunity to gain knowledge in proteomics and bioinformatics, develop my own skills, and integrate them into multidisciplinary fields, which will be a great additive for my future. I always believe that developing our skills and acquiring new ones will be a key factor for a successful career.