Research Published November 21 2016
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Claire Wyart (Inserm, Institut du Cerveau – ICM), head of the team ” Optogenetic dissection of spinal circuits underlying locomotion “, is the recipient of two prestigious awards, the EMBO Young Investigator Program and the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Robertson Award. These distinctions reward her team’s work conducted at the Institut du Cerveau – ICM for the last 5 years and provide an important support for her research projects for the next 5 years.

Claire Wyart joined the Institut du Cerveau – ICM in 2011 and launched her team “Optogenetic dissection of spinal circuits underlying locomotion” with the ATIP/Avenir label, the ENP chair of excellence (School of Neurosciences Paris Ile-de-France) and the City of Paris Emergence program. After obtaining her PhD in Biophysics at the University of Strasbourg in 2003, she contributes during her post-doctorate at the University of Berkeley in the development of in vivo optogenetics in the zebrafish in order to study locomotion circuits.

While books describe the ventral spinal cord as the place for motor circuits only, Claire Wyart’s team highlights a sensory pathway in the spinal cord in connection with the cerebrospinal fluid, and motor circuits. This pathway can regulate movement according to mechanical and chemical information carried by the cerebrospinal fluid. The team has also shown that this sensory system is highly conserved in mammals.

“The goal for the next 5 years is to elucidate what are the chemical information detected by this sensory pathway in zebrafish and in mammals […] Another project interesting me is to understand how information coming from the brain are integrated with this local sensory pathway, to control spinal cord networks”, explains Claire Wyart.

Claire Wyart is one of the 25 researchers selected among more than 200 applicants for The European Molecular Biology Organization Young Investigator Program (EMBO-YIP), supporting young researchers in Life sciences at a time when they set up their own research team. Selected researchers receive many helps for the development of their group. EMBO-YIP is a great way to collaborate with other European research teams and have access to EMBL platforms (European Molecular Biology Laboratory).

The New York Stem Cell Foundation supports young researchers, mainly in the stem cell field, but also in neuroscience. The New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Innovator Award is a 1.5 million $ price over 5 years, awarded to 3 scientists selected among more than 250 participants in order to allow the development of innovative research projects.

“These awards honour the work of all my team : Pierre-Luc Bardet, Urs Böhm, Laura Desban, Lydia Djenoune, Kevin Fidelin, Jeff Hubbard, Steven Knafo, Andy Prendergast, Kristen Severi, Jenna Sternberg, with the alumni Sophie Nunes and Johanna Gomez, we have worked hand in hand and everyone’s efforts were supported and recognised by a publication. It is an important recognition for the work done for the past 5 years, with the support of the Institut du Cerveau – ICM, but also our current approach, the work of a team with international flavour and strongly united, ” concludes the researcher with a bright future.