I obtained my PhD at the University of Rouen (France) in 1989, following a Masters in Biochemistry at the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. I spent three years as a post-doctoral researcher in San Diego (UCSD and the Salk Institute) and moved back to Strasbourg where I worked at the IGBMC for four years.
My current project was initiated in Strasbourg where I was recruited as „Chargé de recherche Inserm" in 1998 and ultimately continued in Paris where I was promoted „Directeur de recherche‟ in 2006.
The diverse influences of these different geographic locations translate to a broad expertise in molecular biology.
I commenced my current medical project on signaling and the therapy of inherited retinal degeneration with José Sahel. It is ironic that within the field of neuroprotection, we try to promote the activity of the very same actors I was trying to inhibit in the field of cancer biology. Examples include the growth factor GDNF, on which we published one paper in IOVS and two papers in Molecular Vision, and p53 shown to be activated in response to photoreceptor degeneration in a paper published in Molecular Neurosciences.
One novel scientific achievement, the yields of which have occupied most of my time over the last ten years, was based on the observations made by Saddek Mohand-Saïd and José Sahel in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The transplantation of rod photoreceptors in the eye of this mouse was found to prevent the secondary loss of cones, the more vital class of photoreceptors necessary for vision. In the degenerative disease RP, most patients carry a mutation in a gene (among many) expressed selectively in rods, hence preventing secondary cone loss by means of mimicking the effects of transplantation could be an effective and broadly applicable therapy.
Two studies published respectively in PNAS and IOVS demonstrated that the molecules are proteins secreted by rods, but did not allow for their isolation. Using my broad expertise in molecular biology, I designed a protocol of systematic screening of a retinal library against primary cone cultures from chicken embryos. This strategy of expression cloning was inspired by the emerging concepts from the field of functional genomics. The identification of this novel member of the thioredoxin family, which we published in 2004 in Nature Genetics, resulted in our being honoured alongside José Sahel with the 2005 American foundation FFB award.
We more recently published in BMC molecular Biology, RdCVF2 the paralogue of the first factor.
We moved from Strasbourg to Paris in 2002, with the perspective of creating a new structure, the „Institut de la Vision" designed within the spirit of the idiom “from bench to the bedside”.
We also created the company Fovea-Pharmaceuticals in 2005 to valorise our high content screening expertise for the identification of novel molecules for the treatment of retinal diseases.