Gian-Paolo Dotto, professeur ordinaire au Département de biochimie de l'UNIL et Andrea Volterra, professeur ordinaire au Département des neurosciences fondamentales de l'UNIL, voient tous deux l'excellence de leurs travaux saluée par l'octroi d'un «Advanced Grant» de l'European Research Council (ERC) doté d'environ 2,5 millions d'euros chacun pour une durée de cinq ans.
Pour des projets hautement ambitieux, novateurs et atypiques
Les "ERC Advanced Grants" sont destinés à des chercheurs de haut niveau, à la réputation établie sur le plan international. Les projets sélectionnés sont particulièrement ambitieux, risqués et novateurs tant en ce qui concerne les approches méthodologiques que les résultats scientifiques attendus et l'impact potentiel sur la discipline concernée et au-delà.
Projet du Prof. Gian-Paolo Dotto:
Skin, race and cancer: making sense of the genetics
Dissimilarities in the susceptibility of individuals of different races to cancer are still not fully understood. People of different racial origin have different predispositions to cancer of the skin. The incidence of all three types of skin cancer - deadly melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma - is substantially higher in Caucasians compared to East Asian and Black African people. While pigmentation can account for the different incidence, it does not explain the more aggressive behaviour of squamous cell carcinoma in Asian or Black African populations. Black Africans are also more susceptible to aggressive cancer of internal organs, for example the breast or prostate. The reasons for these differences in susceptibility are unclear. Dotto and colleagues will be looking closely at how genetic and epigenetic factors play a role in differences in racial susceptibility to squamous cell carcinoma, the most common form of malignant solid tumors in humans. While focusing on the skin cancer, what they learn will be likely relevant also to squamous cancer in other organs. The Advanced Grant from the European Research Council will support the work.
Projet du Prof. Andrea Volterra:
The language of astrocytes: multilevel analysis to understand astrocyte communication and its role in memory-related brain operations and in cognitive behavior
In the 90s, two landmark observations brought to a paradigm shift about the role of astrocytes in brain function: 1) astrocytes respond to signals coming from other cells with transient Ca2+ elevations; 2) Ca2+ transients in astrocytes trigger release of neuroactive and vasoactive agents. Since then, many modulatory astrocytic actions and mechanisms were described, forming a complex - partly contradictory - picture, in which the exact roles and modes of astrocyte action remain ill defined. Our project wants to bring light into the "language of astrocytes", i.e. into how they communicate with neurons and, ultimately, address their role in brain computations and cognitive behavior. To this end we will perform 4 complementary levels of analysis using highly innovative methodologies in order to obtain unprecedented results. We will study: 1) the subcellular organization of astrocytes underlying local microdomain communications by use of correlative light-electron microscopy; 2) the way individual astrocytes integrate inputs and control synaptic ensembles using 3D two-photon imaging, genetically-encoded Ca2+ indicators, optogenetics and electrophysiology; 3) the contribution of astrocyte ensembles to behavior-relevant circuit operations using miniaturized microscopes capturing neuronal/astrocytic population dynamics in freely-moving mice during memory tests; 4) the contribution of astrocytic signalling mechanisms to cognitive behavior using a set of new mouse lines with conditional, astrocyte-specific genetic modification of signalling pathways. We expect that this combination of groundbreaking ideas, innovative technologies and multilevel analysis makes our project highly attractive to the neuroscience community at large, bridging aspects of molecular, cellular, systems and behavioral neuroscience, with the goal of leading from a provocative hypothesis to the conclusive demonstration of whether and how "the language of astrocytes" participates in memory and cognition.
Prochains appels ERC:
Informations: Euresearch Lausanne, Anne-Emmanuelle.deCrousaz(at)unil.ch; 021 693 47 50