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  • Phone : 0678055793
  • Location : Toulouse, France
Last update 2022-03-07 12:19:45.1

Raphaële Castagné PhD

Course and current status

Present: Researcher, EQUITY team, INSERM, CERPOP, UMRS INSERM-UPS 1295, Toulouse, France.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (INCA), Dept of Epidemiology and Public Health, UMRS INSERM-UPS 1027, Toulouse, France.
In this project, we propose to use a life course approach to study the relationship between SEP from childhood to adulthood on hormonal cancer risk (breast cancer) and progression by investigating biological processes involved in the embodiment of the social environment in two cohorts from the EPIC study (EPIC Italy and Epic France (E3N)).
2016-2018: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (LifePath, european project), Dept of Epidemiology and Public Health, UMRS INSERM-UPS 1027, Toulouse, France.
Objective of the Lifepath project is to investigate the biological pathways underlying social differences in healthy ageing. I am specifically involved in the work package 7 which aims at developing an integrative conceptual framework for the biological embedding of the social environment, based on the build-up and decline stages model. Also, it will identify omic-generated biomarkers that link socioeconomic position (SEP) and SEP-related exposures to disease and to a composite indicator of healthy
ageing, by applying the meet-in-the middle approach.
2014-2016: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (INCA, 2-years funding, ∼ €120 K), Dept of Epidemiology and Public Health, UMRS INSERM-UPS 1027, Toulouse, France.
Socio-economic position measured by income, educationnal level or occupationnal position, is linked to a wide range of diseases including cancer in all europeans countries. Several models have already investigated the link between social factors and health outcomes such as differential access to treatment and prevention, and exposure to cancer risk factor (behavioural and occupational). However, these factors are not sufficient to fully explain the health related social gradients. One suspected mechanism
linking SE position and health outcome(s) is via differential activation of a wide range of physiological reactions. Using several high-throughput data obtained in the same prospective study population from the
EnviroGenoMarkers project, I am investigated the biological modifications associated with the social environment measured at three different life stages (childhood, young adulthood and adulthood). More specifically, I am looking for the molecular response to SE-related stresses during the life course at three different molecular levels: DNA methylation, gene expression and proteins.
2013-2014: Research Associate, Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.
The COMBI-BIO project is to uncover metabolic biomarkers of pre-symptomatic atherosclerosis using serum samples from thee epidemiological cohorts collected in the UK (LOLIPOP), the Netherlands (ROTTERDAM) and the USA (MESA), and based on two endpoint measures (arterial calcification, CAC, and an artery wall thickness measurement, IMT). The data collected encompasses untargeted metabolic profiling using both proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS) from stored serum samples from 4,000 people from the 3 different cohorts, with validation in stored samples from a further 4,000 people as well as a large panel of subclinical atherosclerosis measurements. I am involved in a collaborative environment to the discovery and identification of biomarkers by developing ad-hoc statistical strategies and computational tools to analyse the data. Statistical strategies involved linear regression modelling, multivariate analysis and meta-analysis. Due to the high degree of collinearity in the metabolomics data, each test cannot be considered as independent, I am currently addressing the multiple testing correction issue to minimising the risk of false positive associations at adequate power with a given clinical outcome.
2012-2013: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (FRM, personal 1-year funding, ∼ €30 K), Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.
The EnviroGenoMarkers project comprises a wide range of untargeted omics profiles (metabolomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, epigenetics, extensive measurements of blood concentration of environmental pollutants) and detailed questionnaire-based dietary/lifestyle exposures.The primary objective of my project is to perform statistical analyses of EGM OMICs data and characterise exposome features impacting the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in collaboration with the project members. An additional area of research is in the investigation of OMICs markers of socio-economic characteristics; in collaboration with the INSERM and University of Toulouse.
2008-2011: PhD thesis, Dept of Cardiovascular Genomics, UMRS INSERM-UPMC 937, Paris, France. I was responsible for the management and the statistical analysis of the genomic (genotype and gene expression data) and phenotypic data from the Gutenberg Heart Study. My research focused on the X chromosome and the characterisation of its specificities in terms of regulation, genetic
composition and function. My work specifically consisted in:
-Pre-processing and data management
-Performing statistical analyses (GWAs, Meta-Analyses, eQTL analyses): development and application of in-house scripts
-In-depth analysis of the X chromosome: dosage compensation (array and RNAseq platforms) and genetics of gene expression: eQTL
This work constituted an opportunity to develop my skills in both statistics/bioinformatics, to answer relevant questions raised in a clinical environment. I worked independently but interacted with scientists from a wide range of research fields. I learned to prioritize and orient my work and methodological choices in order to ensure accurate and timely answers to the questions arising from the consortium.

Scientific summary

The research questions I addressed since my PhD have helped me to apprehend the diversity of biological factors involved in characterising ‘health’ ‘inside the body’ and how to combine approaches from different research fields. I also had the opportunity to look ‘outside the body’ by studying the biological effects of two environmental exposures particularly involved in the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). I am convinced that in addition to identifying molecular signatures related to adverse health outcomes and/or intermediate phenotypes, there is a need from a scientific and public health perspective, to account for the individual in all their dimensions across the life course and to develop a biosocial approach of NCD onset.

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