IBDM Portraits – Ahmed Fatmi

For me, building a qPCR technical platform is much more than a technical achievement.
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Can you tell us about your career path and what motivated you to come and work at IBDM?

After studying at the Universities of Marseille, Montpellier, Toulouse and Lyon, my career was enriched by a unique opportunity: joining the CNRS in a joint unit with BioMerieux-Lyon. This merger between the public and private sectors provided me with fertile ground to explore technological advances and cutting-edge methods in molecular biology. Over fifteen years of experience at the heart of this partnership, I have consolidated my skills and acquired solid expertise.

Motivated by the desire to return to my roots, I decided to continue my career at the Institute of Developmental Biology in Marseille (IBDM). Returning to Luminy, where I was once a student, has rekindled a deep connection with the familiar academic environment. Working in this familiar environment gives me a new sense of satisfaction and commitment, and I look forward to tackling the exciting challenges of research every day.

What scientific result did you find particularly satisfying and why?

For me, building a qPCR technical platform is much more than a technical achievement. It’s the culmination of an ambitious project and a source of great satisfaction. Every day, this platform plays an essential role in meeting the needs of the many projects that are carried out in our institute.

Knowing that your work is actively contributing to the progress of research across several teams is extremely gratifying. qPCR provides the precision and sensitivity that are essential to our work, and being able to make it available to our colleagues reinforces the sense of collaboration and achievement.

Seeing the concrete results of our daily efforts in the form of scientific discoveries or advances in our understanding of biological mechanisms is a constant source of motivation. All in all, building this platform is not only a technical advance, but also a fundamental pillar of my research mission, and it gives me immense personal satisfaction.

What are you working on at the moment?

Mechanisms of autistic disorders.

What do you like most about your job? Least?

What makes my job so rewarding is the variety and richness it offers every day. Although the daily tasks may seem repetitive, each day brings its own unique challenges and discoveries. This variety gives my work a different colour at every moment, making each day interesting and stimulating.

However, the thing that weighs most heavily on my mind is the passage of time and the inexorable approach of retirement. Despite the love I have for my job, the thought of leaving this dynamic and stimulating environment brings a mixture of nostalgia and apprehension. However, I am trying to make the most of every day at work and to make the most of these precious moments before I reach this important stage in my life.

If you had to adopt a motto to guide your career, what would it be?

Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano…

Do you have an anecdote to tell about your work?

The best anecdotes are the ones that stay with us, becoming fellow travellers, revealing valuable lessons and memories. Each one is important and only makes sense as a whole, 10 lines would not be enough…

If you had to associate your job with a genre of film, such as horror, comedy, drama, etc., as well as a specific film (e.g. Frankenstein), which one would you choose and why?

The comedy-drama starring Forrest Gump: ‘How simplicity can work wonders!

What recent scientific discovery are you most excited about and why?

Subduction volcanoes and the importance of water I recently discovered. Water plays an essential role in the formation of subduction volcanoes by lowering the melting point of rocks and promoting partial melting of the mantle, leading to the formation of magma and associated volcanic activity. This combination of power, beauty, geological significance and historical legacy makes volcanoes a fascinating and inspiring subject.

If you had to choose a superpower based on a scientific phenomenon, what would it be and how would you use it?

Nuclear fusion to reduce the use of polluting and finite fossil fuels.

If you were a laboratory tool, what would you be?


If you could swap brains with an animal for a day, which one would you choose and why?

A whale, to discover the depths of the sea…

What are your favourite hobbies or pastimes?

Cycling, fishing, DIY, reading and spending time with friends.

What are the latest films, series, books, concerts or other cultural entertainment that you've enjoyed recently?

Dune II, House of Cards and MindHunter. Latest book in progress ‘Scipio the African’ and latest restaurant: ‘Smok Meat’ in the 1st arrondissement of Marseille, where and how to taste succulent meat cooked at low temperature for over 15 hours.


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