Didier Trono has had a long-standing interest for interactions between viruses and their hosts. This led him to study the biology of pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B virus, and to invent a HIV-based delivery system that today is used successfully in human gene therapy. Some fifteen years ago, his research shifted towards the field of epigenetics, where he now explores the impact of retroelements and their controlling mechanisms on the development and physiology of higher organisms, including humans, and exploits this information to create new approaches for cancer diagnostic and therapeutics.
After obtaining an M.D. from the University of Geneva and completing a clinical training in pathology, internal medicine and infectious diseases in Geneva and at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Didier Trono embarked in a scientific career at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research of MIT. In 1990, he joined the faculty of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to launch a center for AIDS research. He moved back to Europe seven years later, before taking the reins of the newly created EPFL School of Life Sciences, which he directed from 2004 to 2012. He is now actively engaged in the efforts of Switzerland to integrate new technologies in the fields of precision medicine and personalized health.