Dr Roger Levesque
My major passions in life have always revolved around four things: love for my family and the team members of my laboratory, science and music. All four feed into each other making me the person I am. As far as I can remember, music has always fascinated me, not only the sounds but the mood and the colors it brings in my mind and lifts my soul. For me, if there is no music around, no science at all gets done and I lose my creativity.
Science and literature have always been with me, mostly a fascination for biology and ecology which evolved into microbiology and microbial genetics and recently into genomics, bioinformatics, integrative and systems biology and metadata analysis. I call it ecogenomics, environment and health.
I trained in biology with a major in ecology (BSc) at the Université de Moncton, in medical microbiology (MSc) at the Université de Montréal and in microbiology and bacterial genetics (PhD) at Université Laval. A Medical Research Council of Canada studentship gave me an opportunity to be a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University studying bacterial transposons and antibiotic resistance. An award from the American Society of Microbiology got me at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the Luria and Delbruck laboratory to learn advanced bacterial genetics. There, I had the chance to meet Nobel James Watson and Barbara McClintock whom had a lasting effect in what I do. Others also had a major role in defining the scientist that I am, George Jacoby, John Wolfson, Bob Hancock, Hamilton Smith, Craig Venter and George Church.
The world we live in is vast, mysterious, fascinating and scary. Understanding why natural systems came into existence and deciphering their intricate and fundamental mechanisms have always been a passion of mine, almost like an obsession that constantly grows and thrives as layers of knowledge accumulate. It was thus natural for me to complete a bachelor’s degree in biology at Université Laval. During my undergraduate studies, my broad and complementary interests in different fields of study in biology allowed me to work in marine ecology with invertebrate communities in the Canadian maritimes, in applied genetics with the honey bee in an agricultural context in the province of Québec, in behavioral ecology with seal populations in the St-Lawerence river, in eco-toxicology with the endangered beluga population of the St-Lawerence estuary, and in fundamental research focused on the mechanisms of genome evolution (speciation). I then specifically trained in evolutionary genomics (population genomics, genome evolution) at Université Laval (Msc, 2010-2012) and I recently obtained my Phd in ecological genomics of host-parasite interactions at Université Laval (2013-2017). I joined the Levesque lab in April 2017 and I now work as a post-doctoral researcher on various projects in the lab. My main focus is functional genomics and bioinformatics, so whenever there is some code to script somewhere, I’ll be there like a happy camper helping out and spreading the Python love! But beware the simple unidimensional souls, because science is not the only way to understand the world surrounding us. When I am not coding, I try to observe and feel our societies through other perception tools, such as visual arts, music, and intensive gardening.
“The whole world is wild at heart and weird on top” – David Lynch
My broad professional experience as a scientist and as a microbiologist can be summarized by being involved in various projects such as foodborne and respiratory virology, bacterial pathogenicity, bacterial genetics, genomics and molecular biology with microbiological, biochemical and basic bioinformatics skills. I completed my PhD in microbiology and immunology in 2007 under Dr Roger Levesque’s supervision. After postdoctoral training with Dr Guy Boivin at the CHUQ, I was recruited as a research associate. I am involved in all research activities in the Levesque laboratory, and more specifically in high level research projects related to functional genomics and pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, including the murine model of chronic lung infection. I have developed and refined animal models of infection for studying the role of bacterial virulence implicated in in vivo maintenance, the production of biofilm, quorum sensing and evaluation of novel molecules of high therapeutic value. I’m also responsible for the general management of the laboratory and in training new undergraduate and graduate students, technicians and research assistants.
I work in this research field since 2011 and I have developed a lot of expertise by studying bacterial species causing disease in humans, plants and animals (Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, Pseudomonas syringae et Aeromonas salmonicida, respectively). My research interests and expertise span from molecular biology to bacterial genomics. I have been working on the Salmonella project in the Levesque laboratory since November 2015.
People who know me know that I am honest, energetic, passionate about science, funny, curious, resourceful and that I hate when my coffee becomes cold before I drink it.
I am motivated by the perspective that we still have a lot of things to understand about the world around us. But, in order to make a discovery, we have to investigate. In other words, the discoveries of tomorrow are studied today.
After completing my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Laval University, I obtained a master’s degree in structural biology under the supervision of Dr. Rong Shi and Dr. Stéphane Gagné. My field of expertise includes protein purification and structure determination by X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance. I joined the Levesque laboratory in May 2017 and occupy the position of research assistant. I have an immense interest for bioinformatics and I’m always looking to improve my programming skills and knowledge of genomics. My dedication to science is rivaled only by my composure and optimistic attitude.
After graduate studies in molecular and evolutionary biology, I joined the Levesque laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow to study the genomics of P. aeruginosa in the context of cystic fibrosis chronic lung infections. To achieve this, I received postdoctoral scholarships from the Quebec respiratory health training program (2011-2012) and Cystic Fibrosis Canada (2013-2016). Since July 2016, I work as a research associate for the Genome Canada project on salmonella genome sequencing in the context of foodborne illness. I contribute to all aspects of this project, from research planning to data analysis. I am also in charge of updating the SalFos web database. Science aside, I specialize in baking, which is much appreciated by my colleagues.
I obtained a college degree as well as a BSc degree in informatics from Université Laval. I have been working in various areas of informatics since 1998 where I developed various expertise including technical support, systems administrator, database updates and management and computer programmer analyst. Technical environments that are familiar and use include: Apache, MySQL5, OpenCart1.5, HTML (CSS), PHP, Dreamweaver, Oracle Forms, Toad, Oracle report 10g, SGDB Oracle 8i et 10g. My expertise can be mainly defined as analyst in informatics and developer of solutions and applications according to the needs of various users. My expertise in web-based applications gave me an opportunity to develop a unique database in Québec for researchers in biostatistics at the Centre de recherche de l’Université Laval Robert-Giffard. The BigP database contains clinical, phenotypic and genomics data for 15,000 patients.
I have become a member of the Levesque laboratory in 2015 as developer of web applications, database development, security and management. As a start up, I have been involved in development and implementation of several genomics and metadata databases including the International Pseudomonas Consortium Database (IPCD), the International Gypsy Moth Database (IGMD) and the Salmonella Foodborne Syst-OMICS database (SalFoS). I have developed and conceived the Levesque web site.