Jean Cohen tragically and prematurely passed away in November 2004 at the age of 60. After achieving two higher degrees at the University of Orsay/Paris, Jean became a full time researcher at the INRA, Jouy-en-Josas, in 1984, and in 2003 at the CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette. He devoted most of his scientific efforts to rotavirus (RV) research. By many, he is regarded as the father of the molecular biology of RVs. He has published/co-published the results of his work in over 100 papers of scientific journals. 

His main achievements were: 

  • the discovery of the transcriptase activity of RV subviral particles in vitro 
  • cloning, sequencing and expression of RV genes
  • studies of molecular mechanisms of RV replication including functions of virus-encoded non-structural proteins
  • contribution to the elucidation of the atomic structure of RV VP6
  • studies of immune responses to RV infections using baculovirus recombinant-produced virus-like particles (VLPs)

Jean was a researcher with immense insight into his subject, lots of original ideas, and exceptional skills at the bench. His work is still frequently being cited, and he is sorely missed by his family, friends and colleagues, but will live on in our memory.  

Shortly after Jean’s decease, a ‘Jean Cohen Lectureship’ Trust was established with the main aim “to support a ‘Jean Cohen Lecturer’ to deliver a lecture at the occasion of the triennial International Symposium on dsRNA Viruses”. The Jean Cohen Lecturers of previous meetings were Félix Rey (2006), Mary K Estes (2009), Stephen C Harrison (2012), John T Patton (2015) and Harry Greenberg (2018). Since the main interest of the previous Jean Cohen lecturers has been structure and molecular biology of rotaviruses, nominations of other areas of dsRNA virus research are encouraged.

Bestowment of the lectureship comprises reimbursement of the costs for travel, conference fee and subsistence. We encourage all those who are interested in the lectureship to please submit your nominations below.

We present Dr. Polly Roy as the recipient for the 2022 Jean Cohen Lecturer

Polly Roy has been Professor of Virology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine since 2001. She completed a PhD at New York University and subsequently received postdoctoral training in RNA virology at Rutgers University. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham she established her own research group, becoming a full Professor in 1986. Following an International Fogarty fellowship at the University of Oxford she established a UK-based research group working on the segmented dsRNA Bluetongue virus, a significant animal pathogen, investigating the virus replication cycle and developing several innovative vaccines. The group's output includes pioneering work on co-expression of viral proteins to form immunogenic virus-like-particles, the development of reverse genetics for Orbiviruses, the in vitro assembly of infectious virus particles, the basis of genome segment packaging and novel single replication cycle vaccines.

Polly Roy’s contribution in Virology has been noted with the award of various honors and awards, including being elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, receiving the Indian Presidential Gold Medal for her contribution to science and technology and being made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to Virus Research in the Queen’s Birthday honors’ list.