Annabelle Biscans, PhD
AstraZeneca R&D Sweden
How did you become interested in the field of oligonucleotides?
My introduction and interest in the oligonucleotide therapeutics world began in 2012 during my PhD at the University of Montpellier, France. When I started my PhD, I did not know much about RNA therapeutics, but it took me only few months to become fascinated by the field and realize the transformative nature of RNA therapeutics research. After my graduate studies, I was fortunate to be able to carry out my research in the field as a postdoc in Anastasia Khvorova’s lab at University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA. This incredible opportunity reinforced my strong interest and fascination about the RNA therapeutics field
Who were your early mentors?
I will be forever grateful to Christelle Dupouy, my PhD supervisor. She introduced me to the RNA therapeutics world and taught me how to approach and enjoy science. She gave me solid foundation in critical thinking and has always been incredibly supportive. More recently, Anastasia Khvorova played a significant role in my career. She is passionate, has tremendous knowledge and through her kindness and expertise she gave me every opportunity to be successful. She is an inspiration and sets an example as a successful woman in science.
How did you become involved in OTS?
I attended my first OTS meeting in 2016 in Montreal when I joined Anastasia Khvorova’s lab and I have been attending the annual meetings since then. I discovered an excellent meeting with exceptional science and friendly interaction between academia and industry as well as young and senior scientists. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the amazing community and be able to share my research at OTS meetings. I was honored to receive Dr Alan Gewirtz memorial scholarship last year and participate to the OTS webinar session early this year.
Why do you continue to support the society?
I continue to support the society for multiple reasons. First, the OTS community is an amazing group of international persons who are tremendously knowledgeable in the field and extremely friendly. Secondly, the society does an excellent job of covering the latest breakthrough in the field from chemistry all the way to oligonucleotides in clinic. Last but not least, the society knows how to create an exceptional atmosphere by favoring interaction and network by having nonparallel sessions and great social events which bring people together.
What is special about the type of research/work you’ve done?
My main research is focused on designing and engineering conjugated fully stabilized siRNAs to enhance their delivery into extrahepatic tissues. We can identify conjugates that allow functional delivery in several tissues beyond liver such as lung, heart, muscles, fat, adrenal glands. These findings provide examples of how rational lipid engineering may be used to fine-tune the properties of therapeutic siRNAs, and their extrahepatic delivery.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I really enjoy traveling to new places in my free time. As the last year was not the best year to explore new countries and cultures, I enjoyed outdoor activities (hiking, biking) as much as possible.
Any other fun facts/tidbits you would like us to know!
The lockdowns inspired me to cook unusual meals which turned out to be surprisingly tasteful. Who would have thought that I could be a good “cook”!