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Frantz Jean-Francois - Scientist

Frantz Jean-Francois

Scientist The most attractive aspect of working [here] is the flexibility to tackle RAS from so many different angles. This allows me to draw upon my diverse set of skills in creative ways.

Frantz Jean-Francois, scientist II, Protein Characterization Laboratory, is a biophysicist who studies the biology of RAS genes and proteins. 

Jean-Francois joined the Frederick National Laboratory’s Cancer Research Technology Program two years ago. He is currently a member of the RAS Initiative, the NCI-sponsored, Frederick National Laboratory-led partnership that seeks to develop new therapies for cancers with RAS mutations.

Since his arrival, he has worked on designing biophysical platforms to quantify protein–lipid interactions. Those in turn have helped to illuminate critical facets of RAS biology.

For example, when his team applied the platforms to the KRAS oncogene—which drives 30–50 percent of colorectal cancers and several lung cancers—they learned a wealth of information about how various proteins and lipids contribute to KRAS protein interactions at the cell membrane.

The success of one of his platforms even led to him being invited to speak at an international conference.

As shown by his efforts to understand RAS, Jean-Francois isn’t one to turn down a challenge, scientific or otherwise. He is currently working to create strategies to conditionally degrade high-priority target proteins, including the “undruggable” KRAS.

The rest of our interview with Jean-Francois can be read below:

Public Affairs: How did you become interested in your line of work, and what drew you to the Frederick National Laboratory?

Jean-Francois: While a master student at the University of Bordeaux in France, I was intrigued by the various biophysical techniques that could be used to study protein–lipid interactions. Because all RAS biology occurs at the membrane, the opportunity to work on an important cancer target requiring knowledge of protein–membrane interaction was very appealing to me.

Public Affairs: What is one thing you enjoy about working at the Frederick National Laboratory?

Jean-Francois: The most attractive aspect of working at the RAS Initiative is the flexibility to tackle RAS from so many different angles. This allows me to draw upon my diverse set of skills in creative ways.

Public Affairs: What accomplishment(s) at the Frederick National Laboratory are you most proud of?

Jean-Francois: I am most proud of setting up a surface plasmon resonance platform together with mathematical models allowing for a large variety of protein–lipid interaction parameters to be quantified. This platform, which should be published soon, has drawn interest beyond the Frederick National Lab, and I was invited to speak about it at the GE Healthcare Annual International Conference.

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer, Photo by Richard Frederickson, staff photographer