• Main research background:
I obtained my PhD in Neuropharmacology with specific focus on myelin in the peripheral and central nervous systems and the effects of trace elements/heavy metals on its structure. I also studied the blood-brain barrier composed of the cerebral capillary endothelial cells which maintains homeostasis in the central nervous system by controlling the penetration into and removal of substances from the brain. Emerging research of the central nervous system indicates that endothelial cells of brain capillaries may represent a critical node in the microbiota-gut brain axis.
I joined the Institut Pasteur as a staff research scientist in 1990 and began my work on serotoninergic system and psychiatric disorders associated with abnormal brain levels of serotonin (anxiety and depression). I conducted part of my research during this period as a visiting scientist in collaboration with other research scientists in the U.S (Boston, MA). I obtained my HDR in 2000 and joined the laboratory of Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux in 2003. The focus of my research in this laboratory was on nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors, analysis of their response to chronic nicotine, and their ability to upregulate upon nicotine exposure depending on their subunits stoichiometry. The role of nicotinic receptors on immune cells and their anti-inflammatory properties have been studied.
I then joined the Unit of Human Genetics and Cognitive Function in 2009. My research has since been devoted to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and entered on the development of synaptic functions and plasticity of excitatory synapses, which underlie cognition.
• Main Research Topics Since 2009:
- Studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control synaptic connectivity in the central nervous system and their dysruptions in Autism Spectrum Disorders –
- Focus on Contactins (5 & 6) and SHANK3 proteins.
- These analyses using rat and human neurons in culture integrate an array of methods including homology modeling, cellular and functional imaging, and 3D reconstruction of dendritic spines.
• Other Activities within the Neuroscience Department:
- Deputy Director of the Neuroscience Department (Director: Prof. Pierre-Marie Lledo)
- Head of studies of the Neuroscience Course : http://www.pasteur.fr/fr/enseignement/cours-pasteur/pole-mecanismes-du-vivant/development-and-plasticity-nervous-system
- 2016: http://www.pasteur.fr/fr/enseignement/moocs
- Responsible of the staff at Preparation Laboratory (Fernbach building, levels 0-2)
• Mentoring Activities: 1990 – Present
Hala Sahran (Co-director with G. Fillion, PhD obtained in 1997)
Oriane Mercati (Thesis Director, PhD obtained in Oct 2013)
Laura Gouder (Thesis Director, PhD obtained in Nov 2016)
Aline Vitrac (PhD student, since Sept 2016)
Valérie Revel (Master 1, Paris 6, 1989-1990)
Valéry Monneret ( DEA, Paris 6, 1994-95)
François Pontonnier (DEA, in coll. with Ste Anne Hospital, Paris V, 1996-97)
Naïla Even (Master 2, Paris 6, 2005-06, PhD obtained in Australia)
Oriane Mercati (Master 2, Paris 7, 2008-2009)
Laura Gouder (Master 2, Paris 7, 2011-2012)
Aline Vitrac (Master 2, Paris 7, 2015-2016)
Ekatarina Atanasova (Master 1, April- June 2016)