Claire Wyart Group Leader, PhD Neurosciences and Biophysics

Course and current status

Dr. Claire Wyart is a INSERM director of research and led the team since 2011. Eager to quantify neuronal communication dynamically, Claire pursued undergrad studies in STEM and graduated in 2000 from the École Normale Supérieure d'Ulm, Paris. In 2003, he completed a PhD in a physics laboratory at the University of Strasbourg where she developed fluorescent recordings of neuronal network activity. Moving to UC Berkeley for her postdoc in 2005, she was one of the first to use light to manipulate the activity of neurons in vivo.

Scientific summary

As a pioneer in the emerging field of optogenetics, Claire used this approach to discover a novel sensory system within the spinal cord. In 2011, Claire starts her team at the Paris Brain Institute: her interdisciplinary group shows that the sensory system she discovered in the spinal cord detects curvature of the spine to optimize the speed and posture during movements. Together, they uncover that this system also controls morphogenesis of the body axis throughout life, and is activated during infection of the central nervous system to enhance innate immunity. Leveraging the transparency of larval zebrafish, her signature lies in deploying cutting-edge optical technologies to investigate neural activity throughout the body during movement, yielding insights into the structure of sensory and motor circuits in vertebrates. Claire is deeply committed to science outreach and training of young researchers in science:

Claire Wyart's contributions have earned her international recognition, including the Robertson Prize from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF, 2016), membership of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO, 2019) and the Richard Lounsbery Prize awarded by the French and American National Academies of Sciences (2022).

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