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  • Location : Pessac, France
Last update 2016-05-25 10:24:49.654

Thierry Couffinhal MD, PhD Biology of Cardio-Vascular Diseases

Course and current status

Thierry Couffinhal is a graduate of the University of Bordeaux School of Medicine. He completed his clinical training in cardiology at the Haut Lévêque cardiological hospital. He completed a doctoral fellowship in vascular biology at the University of Bordeaux (Poste d’accueil Inserm, 1994), and a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr J.M. Isner’s lab (St Elizabeth Medical Center of Boston, Boston, USA, 1995-96.).

He joined faculty at the University of Bordeaux School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of cardiology and rose through the ranks to become a Professor of Cardiology, head of the clinical unit of « Exploration, Prevention and Care Center for Atherosclerosis (CEPTA) ». This Unit is dedicated to exploration, prevention and long-term treatment and management of atherosclerotic diseases (angina and myocardial infarction, stroke, peripheral arterial disease) and primary prevention in high-risk patients. Explorations are based on non-invasive up-to-date echographic and other vascular tools. Management is based on a multidisciplinary approach integrating large therapeutic education programs. Thierry Couffinhal currently participates in 7 industrial or academic clinical research programs.

He has been at the head of an Inserm Unit (French Institute of Health and Medical Research) since 2007. The laboratory explores the role of major signaling pathways (Wnt / Hedgehog / JAK2) in vascular biology and thrombosis during development and diseases. The lab is specialized in vascular exploration of transgenic mouse models and signaling pathways. In the last ten years, his research group has been a pioneer, providing molecular and biochemical evidences for the dynamic role of the Wnt/Frizzled pathway in the vascular, cardiac and central nervous system. The group is currently looking at the molecular mechanisms of planar polarity in the oriented morphogenesis of the vascular network during development or diseases.

Experience in collaborative research:

  • 2005-10: Partner in the European consortium EVGN “European Vascular Genomic Network”, FP6
  • 2015-19: Coordinator of Cross-cutting Thematic Action “VIVA”, for Vascular Ageing selected and funded in 2015 by the University of Bordeaux to promote interdisciplinary initiatives. The VIVA project gathers clinicians, researchers, economists, epidemiologists, and pharmacists gathering a broad variety of backgrounds and expertise. It focused on 6 multidisciplinary work packages exploring molecular, genetic, cell biology, imaging or therapeutic features of vascular ageing through experimental or clinical approaches (https://viva.u-bordeaux.fr)
  • 2015-2020: Co-coordinator of a Hospital-University Federation (FHU) project: A project coordinated by Pr Stéphanie Debette, from the FHU SMART: SMall ARtery disease, a Transdisciplinary project aimed at unraveling mechanisms and developing Personalized approaches to prevent its occurrence, progression and consequences. Topic: Small artery disease of brain, heart and eye (http://smart-fhu.u-bordeaux.fr/en)

Scientific summary

Major contributions of Thierry Couffinhal in physiology, biology and vascular medicine :

  1. Development of a mouse model of angiogenesis (hindlimb ischemia). Studies on risk factors influencing angiogenesis.
  2. Innovative methodology for 3D visualization of the arterial macro vasculature in murine models by the use of a micro-scanner
  3. Hypoxic preconditioning of stem cells significantly improves cell survival after engraftment and capillary density
  4. The identification of Frizzled receptors as critical actors of vascular integrity, function, and formation, and as critical factors for cardiac development and repair.
  5. Role of Wnt non-canonical Planar Cell Polarity signaling in vascular morphogenesis and endothelial cell polarity
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