Molecular Neurobiology

Head of Division - Dr François Guillemot

The nervous system, the most complex organ system of animals, is composed of many types of neurons and glial cells, which interact in a precise and intricate network. Research in our Division focuses on understanding how two main parts of the nervous system develop - the brain and the enteric nervous system.

The development of the nervous system occurs stepwise. Early on, precursor cells are set aside and proliferate. Their progeny then differentiate into specific types of neurons and glia. As development proceeds, these cells often have to migrate extensively to their final positions. Finally neurons begin to extend processes and to form specific synaptic contacts.

We use both mouse and Drosophila as animal models to study these different processes, since the fundamental steps in neural development are highly conserved. In addition to genetic approaches in the whole organism, we also use cultured neural stem cells to directly assess the role of various molecules on their development. Our aim is to better understand the mechanisms underlying the development of the nervous system, and thereby also to improve our knowledge of the diseases that affect it.

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