The Institut Pasteur has announced that Professor Yasmine Belkaid took office as its new President on January 2, 2024. Her appointment, approved by the Board of Governors on March 29, 2023, marks the beginning of a six-year term as President of the Institut Pasteur.

Professor Yasmine Belkaid is a renowned scientist whose research focuses on the relationship between microbes and the immune system. Her varied scientific career, which began at the Institut Pasteur with a PhD in Immunology, has covered fields including parasitology, microbiology, medical entomology, virology, tissue immunity, microbiome and human immunology.

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Source: © Institut Pasteur / François Gardy

Yasmine Belkaid, President of the Institut Pasteur

Before taking office as President of the Institut Pasteur, she was Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Human Immunology in the United States, where she also founded and directed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Microbiome Program. She established the Department of Host Immunity and Microbiome at the NIAID in Bethesda, Maryland, United States.

Selection process

The decision to appoint Professor Belkaid as President of the Institut Pasteur follows a lengthy selection process that began in June 2021, led by a search committee chaired by Professor Edith Heard, Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.

Commenting on the appointment, Yves Saint-Geours, Chairman of the Institut Pasteur’s Board of Governors, said: “With her scientific, medical and public health expertise, Yasmine Belkaid has the potential to lead innovative programs that will expand the Institut Pasteur’s international influence, capitalizing on its legacy, its interdisciplinary collaborations and its capacity to train future generations of scientists. This action is of particular importance in our highly competitive environment which presents so many global and multiscale challenges to the Institut Pasteur today.”

Freedom of thought

Professor Belkaid set out her ambitions as the new President, stating: “I am very proud and happy to be taking over as President of the Institut Pasteur today. I have great respect for Professor Stewart Cole, my predecessor, for his scientific career and his exemplary work leading the Institut Pasteur over the past six years. I would like to thank the staff of the Institut Pasteur for welcoming me to their wonderful institution and I am looking forward to working with them. I know that I can count on a wealth of wide-ranging talent and freedom of thought, both of which characterize the identity of the Institut Pasteur.

”As I take office, I am determined to defend French and European scientific research in view of the existential challenges it is currently facing. I will engage directly with the members of the Pasteur Network in a spirit of dialog and mutual respect to gain a clear understanding of today’s global health issues. And I will do my utmost to instill in the next generation of scientists an enthusiasm and passion for science.”

Professor Yasmine Belkaid takes over from Professor Stewart Cole, becoming the 17th President of the Institut Pasteur and the second woman to hold the office since the Institut Pasteur was founded by Louis Pasteur in 1887.


Yasmine Belkaid, 54, was born in Algiers in 1968. She has Algerian citizenship by her father and French citizenship by her mother, and she also holds US citizenship.

Yasmine Belkaid graduated with a Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene in Algiers, as well as a Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) from Paris-Sud University. She completed a PhD in immunology at Paris-Sud University and the Institut Pasteur in 1996, where she studied innate immune responses to Leishmania infection.

After her PhD, she moved to the United States for a postdoctoral fellowship in intracellular parasite biology at NIAID’s Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases (NIH). In 2002, she joined the Molecular Immunology Division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Ohio) before returning to NIAID in 2005 as Head of the Mucosal Immunology Unit in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases.

Leading light

From 2005 onwards, she occupied various positions at NIAID and NIH, and from 2021 she led the Laboratory of Host Immunity and Microbiome at NIH.

Yasmine Belkaid has published more than 220 scientific papers on infection, immunity, immunology, microbiota and nutrition.

She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Robert Koch Prize (2021), the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2019) and the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Prize (2016).

She is a member of several scientific committees and advisory boards, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the Microbiome Technical Advisory Group at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH Anti-Racism Steering Committee, the American Society of Microbiology and the Genentech Scientific Resource Board.