The main focus of my scientific interest is to prevent, treat and cure neurodegeneration. Understanding the molecular events that determine a neuron's fate following injury or during disease is key to finding efficient therapeutic approaches.
During my training as a graduate student in Dr. Jean-Marc Elalouf’s laboratory (Paris XI University, France), I used transcriptomic (Serial Analysis of Gene Expression) and histological techniques to identify genes that exhibit a regionalized expression pattern in the mouse and human brain, and are deregulated in neuropathological conditions. Pursuing my interest in gene deregulation linked to neuronal disease, I joined Dr. Brett Langley’s laboratory at The Burke Medical Research Institute as a post-doctoral fellow in order to study the role of histone deacetylases (HDAC) in DNA damage-induced neurodegeneration. We demonstrated that the neuroprotective efficacy of HDAC inhibitors could be attributed to their ability to modify the specific acetylation pattern of the tumor suppressor protein p53, which is a major regulator of gene expression during neuronal death. Our observations led us to explore the connection between HDAC activity and DNA repair in neurons, which is currently being investigated.