After studying pharmacy, Pierre Close began a doctoral thesis in the Medical chemistry laboratory of the University of Liège, under the supervision of Dr Alain Chariot. His research then focused on the characterization of the molecular and cellular functions of the ELONGATOR complex. The deregulation of the latter is responsible for a neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative genetic disease: familial dysautonomia. Awarded the Marcel Florkin prize in 2007, this work, published in the journal Molecular Cell enabled him to obtain a grant from EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) for a post-doctoral internship in the laboratory of Dr Jesper Svejstrup, at Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, Clare Hall Laboratories, UK. In this laboratory which specializes in the study of the biochemical mechanisms of transcription, Pierre Close attempted to establish connections between newly synthesized RNA and transcription by RNA polymerase II. Back in the University of Liège in 2009, he obtained a postdoctoral research fellowship at the F.R.S.-FNRS which enabled him to pursue and finalize the work he began in London.
This research has been the subject of a publication in the journal Nature and was awarded the Jean Gol prize for biomedical research. Since 2012, Pierre Close has been a research associate at the FRS-FNRS and is head of the Laboratory of Cancer Signalling (GIGA-Research, “Signal Transduction” Unit), whose objective is to unravel mechanisms which underpin and enable the adaptation of cancer cells. He published a study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, which describes a new molecular mechanism, namely the fact that some tRNAs are chemically modified to promote the expression of key proteins involved in tumour initiation. His future work will be dedicated to a better understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying cell adaptation in order to reveal new targets for future therapies.