Shahragim Tajbakhsh, head of the unit “Stem Cells and Development”, was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced grant for his project STENIPATH – Stem and niche cell dynamics in normal and pathological conditions. He is among the 253 researchers in Europe (and 26 in France) to receive this prestigious and highly selective grant in 2022.
Shahragim’s project will focus on the response of stem cells and their niche to pathologies. Studying skeletal muscle stem cells and their environment, the team discovered that the quiescent state characteristic of adult stem cells is altered in pathological conditions, such as infection by the influenza virus or cancer cachexia, impairing their ability to regenerate the damaged tissue. This novel quiescent cell state called GPath will be one of topics to be addressed in this project, which aims to determine whether it represents a coordinated response to pathology or an uncontrolled deregulation.
This project will also explore how pathological agents present in one organ can affect stem and niche cell functions in a distal organ. These studies on muscle and blood stem cells and their respective niches will include metabolic, epigenetic, and functional properties of these cell types and their modes of division, via multi-omics approaches and novel imaging pipelines. It will help gain knowledge on the impact of pathologies on stem cell biology, with broad implications on human health.