Michel Simon Research Director, PhD Biological Sciences, Biochemical Engineer

Course and current status

Team 2 : Epidermal Barrier and Keratinocyte Differentiation
Toulouse Institute for Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases (INFINITy)
Toulouse University - INSERM UMR1291 - CNRS UMR5051 - University Paul Sabatier Toulouse III
CHU Purpan – BP 3028
31024 Toulouse CEDEX 3 


2002: Habilitation à Diriger les Recherches. University of Toulouse III.
1988: Ph D. University of Geneva (Switzerland).
1983: Master degree, Molecular Biology. University of Geneva.
1982: Biochemical engineer. Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon.


2009-2020, DR2 INSERM, UMR1056
1998-2009: CR1 INSERM, UMR5165.
1990-1998: Post-doctoral position (Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Toulouse ; Prof. Guy SERRE)
1988-1990: Post-doctoral position (Department of Genetic, CHUL, Québec, Canada; Prof. Robert TANGUAY)


- European Society for Dermatological Research
- European Epidermal Barrier Research Network
- French Society for Dermatological Research (Société de Recherche Dermatologique)


1999 – 2003: French Society for Dermatological Research board Member (Secretary of the Society from May 2001 to May 2003).
2002 – 2005: French Society For Dermatology scientific-board Member.
2002 - 2010: Scientifc-board Member, Centre Européen de Recherche sur la Peau et les Epithéliums de Revêtement (CERPER), Pierre Favre Company, Toulouse.
2005-2015 : Board Member, Purpan School of Medicine Council (University of Toulouse).
2007-2010 : IFR30 then IFR150 Board Member.
2003-2020 : Member of the UMR5165 and UMR1056 Executive Committee.
2016-2020 : UMR1056 Deputy-Director
2019-2024 : Member of the French Society for Dermatology Scientific Council
From 2020 : Member of the Toulouse Medicine Faculty Scientific Council
Expertise fields: biochemistry and cell biology, cutaneous biology, keratinocyte differentiation, stratum corneum properties and functions. 
Reviewer for the following Reviews: Nature Med, J Invest Dermatol, PLoS ONE, British J Dermatol, Exp Dermatol, Arch Dermatol Res, Ann Dermatol Venereol, J Mol Med, Carcinogenesis, etc. Board Member of « The Open Dermatology Journal » (ISSN 1874-3722).
PLOS ONE associate Editor
Participation to 25 PhD Jury between 2002 et 2021 (20 times reporter) and reporter of4 HDR diploma.
Supervisor of 14 PhD students
Expertise of research projects submitted to the Dutch Technology Foundation STW (Nederland), the Foundation for Scientific Research Belgium, the University of Gent, the French agency ANR, the Région Rhône-Alpes (France), etc.


Sept. 2008 : Annual Meeting of the French Society for Dermatological Research (CARD). 120 participants.
Nov. 2008 : 6th meeting of the European Epidermal Barrier Research Network, 60 participants.
Sept. 2018 : 16th meeting of the European Epidermal Barrier Research Network, 90 participants.

FOUNDINGS in the last five years


  1. Société Française de Dermatologie. 03/2016 to 08/2017. 20,000 euros. Promotor M Simon.
  2. Société de Recherche Dermatologique. 2017. 5,000 euros. Promotor M Simon.
  3. BASF Beauty Care Solutions. 07/2017 to 07/2019. 80,000 euros. Promotors: C Leprince / M Simon.
  4. Société Française de Dermatologie. 03/2019 to 12/2022. 30,000 euros. Promotor M Simon
  5. L’Oréal. 09/2019 to 02/2022. 240,000 euros. Promotor M Simon.
  6. Région Occitanie- Projet OCTOPUs. 02/2020 to 07/2023. 2 461 507 euros. Promotor M Simon
  7. Région Occitanie- Projet INSPIRE. 09/2019 to 12/2022. 600,000 euros. Co-Promotor M Simon
Proteomic characterization of human epidermal lamellar bodies - CNRS specific Programme « Proteomic and protein engineering »; 2004-2005.
 Hornerin et filaggrin-2, two new filaggrin-related epidermal proteins – Fonctionnal characterisation, expression in normal and atopic dermatitis epidermis – Annual call, CERPER ; 2007-2010.
Projet OCTOPUs - Région Occitanie ; 2020-2023.


101 original publications and reviews referenced in PubMed (h factor = 37), 18 book chapters and 5 patents.

Scientific summary

Terminal differentiation of the epidermis is an oriented process during which keratinocytes sequentially turn on and off a series of specific genes in the course of their migration to the external surface of the skin, through the spinous and granular layers. The ultimate step, or cornification, is a genuine process of programmed cell death which results in dramatic structural changes and degradation of the nucleus and cellular organelles, leading to the formation of corneocytes. These cells form the outermost cornified layer of the epidermis. Both the granular and cornified layers allow the epidermis to perform its vital function of multiple barrier between the individual and his environment through their involvement in innate immunity, their high mechanical strength, and their ability to detoxify reactive oxygen species, to limit water loss, to reduce the penetration of UV radiation and to prevent the infiltration of allergens and microorganisms.

From several decades, the objective of our team is to decipher, at the molecular level, the keratinocyte terminal differentiation program, and to know how it is impacted by the environment, and how its impairment induces skin and hair conditions. Thus our work is a continuum between basic research and translational studies. We particularly focus on ichthyoses and inflammatory diseases, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. In industrialized countries, the latter affect up to 20% of children and 10% of adults. They therefore represent a huge burden on health care.

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