Neurodevelopment, Regeneration & Ageing

We are interested in the life course of the nervous system: the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying its formation during development, its renewal and regenerative capacities in adults, and its maintenance during ageing.

How do neural stem and progenitor cells proliferate and generate the great diversity of neurons and glia during development? How does the complex choreography of cell movements shape the nervous system? How do defects in nervous system development during embryogenesis lead to neural disorders? How is plasticity of neural networks regulated in the immature brain during the so-called “critical period” of postnatal stages? In adulthood, how do neural stem and progenitor cells self-renew and respond to injuries or degenerative diseases to regenerate lost neurons and glia – and why do they often fail to do so? How is the longevity of the nervous system controlled?

Scientists from the CNN and DECS departments address these questions using various model organisms including fruit flies, fishes, amphibians, birds and rodents. Using state-of-the-art technology, they focus on the brain, the retina and the olfactory system. Their work will contribute to a better understanding of the fascinating processes that start with a few cells and build a nervous system composed of billions of neurons and glia connected in a vast neural network. This is fundamental for opening new avenues for fighting against the deleterious effects of ageing, for preventing the appearance of, or for developing treatment for various nervous system disorders and diseases, such as intellectual disability, neuropsychiatric disorders, the effects of stroke or trauma, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.