Stephen Cusack (left) discussing

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Partners: EMBL Grenoble; University Joseph Fourier (UJF), Grenoble and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France

The Unit of Virus Host Cell Interactions (UVHCI), a Joint Research Unit (Unité Mixte de Recherche) between EMBL Grenoble, Grenoble University (UJF) and CNRS , was launched in January 2007. Two years later the UVHCI was transformed into an International Joint Unit (Unité Mixte Internationale, UMI 3265) in order to reflect its unique international character. The UVHCI was the second UMI to be created in France, out of 14 worldwide at that time.

UVHCI is also a member of the Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB) and is located on the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) Science Campus in Grenoble. A part of UVHCI is housed in the Carl-Ivar Brändén building, adjacent to the EMBL outstation. Currently the Unit is composed of 13 research groups, nine of which are headed by EMBL group or team leaders, and four by UJF/CNRS staff. Stephen Cusack, Head of EMBL Grenoble, is Director of UVHCI.

The objective of UVHCI is to foster internationally competitive research in structural and molecular biology, and it pursues this in two ways. First, the Unit conducts interdisciplinary research that covers virus structure, virus assembly and maturation, virus-host cell interactions, host and virus gene-expression mechanisms, cell biology of infected cells, innate immunity and anti-pathogen drug design. A particular strength of the UVHCI lies in the fields of RNA viruses, notably influenza and HIV research. Second, it aims at developing new methods and technical platforms for structural biology, for example in the areas of high-throughput expression and crystallization, synchrotron X-ray diffraction methods and instrumentation and electron microscopy.