Gael Cristofari PhD in Life Sciences

Course and current status



Degree to supervise research (HDR), ENS-Lyon, Lyon, France


PhD in Life Sciences (highest honors), ENS-Lyon, Lyon, France


MSc Biology (highest honors, ranked 1/45), Univ. of Lyon & ENS-Lyon, France


Agrégation of Biochemistry and Biotechnology


 Professional Experience


Member, national consortium on viral and cellular chromatin interactions (CNRS GDR DynaVir)


Research Director (Inserm DR2), IRCAN, Nice, France


Deputy director, national consortium on transposable elements (CNRS GDR 3546, 48 teams, renewed in 2020)


Founding member of and group leader at IRCAN, Nice, France

Retrotransposons and genome plasticity in cancer and aging.


Research associate (Inserm CR1), ENS-Lyon, Lyon, France

Regulation of cellular and viral reverse transcriptases.


Post-doctoral fellow, Pr Joachim Lingner’s laboratory, Swiss Institute of Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Swizerland.

Human telomerase and telomere homeostasis.


Graduate student, Pr Jean-Luc Darlix’ laboratory, ENS-Lyon, Lyon, France.

Molecular mechanisms of yeast retrotransposon replication.

Honors and Awards


Henry and Mary-Jane Mitjavile Prize, French National Academy of Medicine 


Laureate of Inserm cross-cutting program on "Genomic Variability"


Medical Research Foundation award (FRM Team program)


Laureate of the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant)


Inserm Avenir award


Albert Sézary Prize, French National Academy of Medicine 


EMBO long-term postdoctoral fellowship


Jacques Piraud Prize, Medical Research Foundation (FRM)


Medical Research Foundation (FRM) short-term fellowship


Lyon University Prize for master students (Amis de l’Université de Lyon)


PhD fellowship Allocataire Moniteur Normalien


Studenship from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (Elève normalien).

Commissions of Trust


Panel expert, Cancer Research UK (UK)


Section 24 board member, national committee for scientific research (CNRS, FR)


Panel expert, Advanced research program of Idex JEDI (University Côte d’Azur, FR)


Board member, Aviesan ITMO Cancer (FR)


Review Editor, Frontiers in Aging (specialty Genetics, Genomics and Epigenomics of Aging)


Board member, Academic council of University Côte d’Azur (FR)


Associate Editor, Mobile DNA


Panel expert, High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (Hcéres, FR)


Ad hoc reviewer, Bioinformatics, Br J Cancer, Cancer Discov, Cell, Cell Chem Biol, Cell Rep, Cell Rep Methods, Cell Res, Development, eLife, EMBO J, Epigenetics, FEBS Lett, Genome Biol, Genome Res, J Clin Invest, Mob DNA, Mol Biol Evol, NAR Cancer, Nat Aging, Nat Commun, Nat Genet, Nat Struct Mol Biol, Nature, Nucleic Acids Res, PLoS Biol, PLoS Genet, PNAS, Review Commons, Sci Adv, Stem Cell Reports, Trends Genet


Board member, Scientific academy of Idex JEDI (University Côte d'Azur, FR)


Panel expert, French National Research Agency (ANR, FR)


Editorial board, Mobile DNA 


Ad hoc grant reviewer or academic evaluator, European Research Council (ERC), Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, UK), Cancer Research UK (UK), Medical Research Foundation (UK), Wellcome Trust (UK), Newcastle University (UK), Swiss Cancer League (CH), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF, CH), Massachusetts General Hospital (US), Harvard Medical School (US), Univ. of Rochester (US), Israel Science Foundation (IL), Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen (CN), National Research Agency (ANR, FR), Canceropoles (FR), and several other regional calls.

Scientific summary

Scientific interest

Cancer, as well as normal and pathological ageing, are characterized by the accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations. Our main interest is to understand how mobile genetic elements contribute to these alterations, and what are the functional and physiological consequences of this form of (epi)genome plasticity.

Selected Publications

- out of 57 publications; h-index: 28; total citations: 4241 [Google scholar on the 18/03/2024]

  1. Lanciano S*, Philippe C*, Sarkar A, Pratella D, Domrane C, Doucet AJ, van Essen D, Saccani S, Ferry L, Defossez PA, Cristofari G. Locus-specific L1 DNA methylation profiling reveals the epigenetic and transcriptional interplay between L1s and their integration sites. Cell Genom. 2024 Feb 14 4:100498 (*co-first authors)
  2. Cristofari G. Snapshots of genetic copy-and-paste machinery in action. Nature. 2024 Feb;626(7997):40-42 (news & views)
  3. Lanciano S, Cristofari G. Flip-flop genomics: Charting inversions in the human population. Cell. 2022 May 26;185(11):1811-1813. (preview)
  4. Lanciano S, Cristofari G. Measuring and interpreting transposable element expression. Nat Rev Genet. 2020 Dec;21(12):721-736. (review)
  5. Tristán-Ramos P, Rubio-Roldan A, Peris G, Sánchez L, Amador-Cubero S, Viollet S, Cristofari G, Heras SR. The tumor suppressor microRNA let-7 inhibits human LINE-1 retrotransposition. Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 11;11(1):5712.
  6. Sultana T*, van Essen D*, Siol O, Bailly-Bechet M, Philippe C, Zine El Aabidine A, Pioger L, Nigumann P, Saccani S, Andrau JC, Gilbert N, Cristofari G. (2019) The landscape of L1 retrotransposons in the human genome is shaped by pre-insertion sequence biases and post-insertion selection. Mol Cell. 74(3): 555–570 (*co-first authors)
  7. Sultana T*, Zamborlini A*, Cristofari G#, Lesage P#. (2017) Integration site selection by retroviruses and transposable elements in eukaryotes. Nat Rev Genet. 18(5): 292-308 (*co-first, #co-corresponding authors)
  8. Philippe C, Vargas-Landin DB, Doucet AJ, van Essen D, Vera-Otarola J, Kuciak M, Corbin A, Nigumann P, Cristofari G. (2016) Activation of individual L1 retrotransposon instances is restricted to cell-type dependent permissive loci. eLife. 5: e13926
  9. Mir AA, Philippe C, Cristofari G. (2015) euL1db: the European database of L1HS retrotransposon insertions in humans. Nucleic Acids Res. 43:D43-47
  10. Monot C*, Kuciak M*, Viollet S, Mir AA, Gabus C, Darlix JL, Cristofari G. (2013) The specificity and flexibility of L1 reverse transcription priming at imperfect T-tracts. PLoS Genet. 9(5):e1003499
  11. Goic B, Vodovar N, Mondotte JA, Monot C, Frangeul L, Blanc H, Dorey V, Vera-Otarola J, Cristofari G, Saleh MC. (2013) RNA-mediated interference and reverse transcription control the persistence of RNA viruses in the insect model Drosophila. Nat Immunol. 14:396-403
  12. Cristofari G, Adolf E, Reichenbach P, Sikora K, et al. (2007) Human telomerase RNA accumulation in Cajal bodies facilitates telomerase recruitment to telomeres and telomere elongation. Mol Cell. 27:882-889
  13. Cristofari G, Reichenbach P, Regamey PO, Banfi D, et al. (2007) Low- to high-throughput analysis of telomerase modulators with Telospot. Nat Methods. 4:851-853.
  14. Cristofari G, Lingner J. (2006) Telomere length homeostasis requires that telomerase levels are limiting. EMBO J. 25, 565-574
  15. Cristofari G, Bampi C, Wilhelm M, Wilhelm FX, Darlix JL. (2002) A 5'-3' long-range interaction in Ty1 RNA controls its reverse transcription and retrotransposition. EMBO J. 21(16):4368-79
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