Biomechanics in health and disease:
advanced physical tools for innovative early diagnosis
H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018 n. 812772

ESR6. Khaldoun Gharzeddine

Short biographic note


I am Khaldoun Gharzeddine, Lebanese born in 1997.

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the Lebanese University in 2017. To satisfy my urge to learn and enhance my knowledge and expertise, I enrolled in a Master II program in Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at Université Grenoble Alpes – France, where I graduated in summer 2019. During my Master II, I studied the role of macrophages in the development and progression of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) in Diethylnitrosmaine (DEN) induced rat model.

Currently, I am working with enthusiasm and motivation on the Phys2BioMed Project as the ESR6 in University Hospital Grenoble Alpes where I will study the nano-mechanical signature of cancerous tissues and its relationship with the associated immune response focusing on macrophages



Project Title

Nano-mechanical signature of cancerous tissues and its relation to the associated immune response


Start date

1st June 2019






Define the use of AFM in diagnostic procedure in human tissues.


Expected results

The ESR will participate to the development of instrumentation, sample preparation and analysis tools for measuring nanomechanics parameters of animal and human tissues obtained directly from the surgery room. AFM analysis will be compared to histological and other structural methods like dynamic light scattering. The ESR will also be involved in the design of soft substrate cell culture (hydrogels) mimicking the ECM to validate in vitro the determination of mechanical properties of these model tissues. One goal of the project is to include AFM data in a multidimensional analysis of tissues to gain information for diagnosis, we will particularly concentrate our attention toward cancerous transformation of fibrotic lesions (cirrhotic) in liver diseases.The ESR will be also involved in scientific communication, training, and dissemination.


Planned secondments

1. CEA-IBS,J.-L. Pellequer (2 months,month 8). Indentation measurement on isolated cells 2. WWU, H. Schillers (3 months,month 14). Force spectroscopy for cell-cell interaction 3. IFJPAN, M.Lekka (2 months,month 18). AFM of cancerous cells 4. INSERM, F. Rico (3 months,month 22). High-speed AFM measurements.



Hypoxia Drives Dihydropyrimidine Dehydrogenase Expression in Macrophages and Confers Chemoresistance in Colorectal Cancer. M. MalierM. CourtK. Gharzeddine et al., B:

Hypoxia Drives Dihydropyrimidine Dehydrogenase Expression in Macrophages and Confers Chemoresistance in Colorectal Cancer. Marie Malier, Magali Court, Khaldoun Gharzeddine, Marie-Hélène Laverierre, Sabrina Marsili, Fabienne Thomas, Thomas Decaens, Gael Roth, Arnaud Millet (2021).Cancer Research doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-21-1572





Question 1: Where are you from and where are you conducting your research now?


Khaldoun: I am from Lebanon and I am conducting my research in Grenoble, France. In fact, I came to Grenoble at the end of August 2019 to start my PhD. I was also in Grenoble doing my masters.



Question 2: What’s one thing you love about Grenoble and one thing you don’t like?


Khaldoun: I really love Grenoble a lot. It reminds me of my village back in Lebanon, with the trees and the mountains. It’s a really calm place, it’s not so crowded compared to other cities in France. What I dislike is that there aren’t many places in the city to visit, and sometimes I wish it was a big, crowded city.


Subquestion: Can you do the same for your hometown?


Khaldoun: One thing I love about my home village is how calm it is as well. For example, when I need to write, the nature is really outstanding. What I dislike is how far away it is from the main cities of Lebanon; you take 1 hour to get to Beirut for example and public transportation is not so practical as it is here.



Question 3: Can you describe your project in one sentence?


Khaldoun: My PhD project is to reprogram tumor associated macrophages, which are one of the foremost immune cell populations within the tumor microenvironment, metabolically aiming to revert the chemoresistance in colorectal cancer.



Question 4: What is your background?


Khaldoun: I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Lebanese University Faculty of Sciences in Lebanon and I went through the Master 1 in general biochemistry in the same university. Then I came here to Grenoble as a Master 2 student in biology: immunology, microbiology and infectious diseases. I was an internship student at the institute for advanced biosciences and my project was to study the role of macrophages in the development and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma.

(Note: Master 1 and master 2 is a denomination used in Lebanon to refer to the 1st and 2nd year of a master programme, respectively.)



Question 5: What is the biggest difficulty you are facing within your research right now and how do you plan to overcome it?


Khaldoun: The main difficulty comes from working with tissues. When I do histological studies, for example, the tissue may be disrupted or detached from the glass slide. Another challenge has been working with the AFM since I am not an expert on it - it is new to me. I plan to overcome these challenges by reading more articles, watch videos and take advice from my supervisors.



Question 6: Why did you choose a research path?


Khaldoun: During my master 1 and master 2 I really fell in love with research. The way scientists think and how they plan experiments to answer a specific scientific question was really appealing to me. You become creative when you are a researcher: you plan experiments and if they don’t work, you have to always keep plan B in mind... and sometimes you need plan C!



Question 7: What 3 traits do you need to succeed in this occupation?


Khaldoun: Every person should be motivated and determined to do their job. The second trait should be organization; without organization you will most definitely fail. And third is good communication skills: one hand alone can’t clap, so you need others to succeed.



Question 8: If we finish this interview and you step outside to find a lottery ticket that wins you 10 million euros, what would you do with it?


Khaldoun: That’s a good question. The profits from my first book were donated to the children cancer centre in Lebanon, where my sister is getting her treatment. With the same spirit, I would donate part of that money to that same centre. The other part I would like to use for travel, discovering new places and bring my family members with me since many of them have never travelled before.


Subquestion: Would you finish your PhD?

Khaldoun: Yes, of course! Once I say yes to something, I don’t stop until I finish it, and I finish it correctly, completely and successfully.



Question 9: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your CV alone?


Khaldoun: I published a book in 2019! It was a poetry book and now I am writing novels. I discovered this talent in my second year of university when I published my first novel on the app ‘wattpad’. I read the comments and reviews and people really liked my work, so I continued to write. Also, I am overall interested in arts, music (violin for instance), acting, presenting, etc. This is the non-scientific part that I have.



Question 10: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things would you bring and why?


Khaldoun: (laughs) I like these kinds of questions. First of all, my mobile phone, I can’t live without it and without social media. Second of all: water, as I need to drink a lot of water. And lastly, a car or some mode of transportation.