François Lallemend obtained his Master’s degree in Biology from the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Liège, Belgium, where he continued his PhD at the Faculty of Medicine at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at the same university. His doctoral thesis focused on studying novel survival pathways in the laboratory in order to develop new strategies to improve the survival of auditory neurons under stress conditions.
After receiving his PhD, he moved to Stockholm to do postdoctoral studies at Karolinska Institutet, where he worked in the laboratory of Patrik Ernfur in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics.
There he shifted to another research focus, exploring the molecular and spatial regulation of neural crest cell differentiation, which includes sensory lineage cells and melanocytes.
After obtaining a teaching assistant position and a grant from the Swedish Research Council, in 2011 he founded his own research group at the Department of Molecular Neurobiology (MBB).
A large portion of the nervous system is devoted to integrating and perceiving sensory information, underscoring the importance of sensory experiences in our daily lives. Processing sensory information is usually an unconscious and automatic process that provides the internal and external contexts necessary for us to understand the world and interact with our environment. For example, hearing facilitates communication with the environment, shaping our lives, while our sense of movement (proprioception and balance) is essential for controlling body movement and posture, enabling interaction with the environment.
The ability to perceive these sensations depends on specialized cell types within our sensory systems that convey specific sensory properties. Therefore, it is important to unravel the complex physical substrate and understand the molecular mechanisms that govern peripheral sensory perception in order to understand its role in health and disease.
Our research program delves into molecules, cell types, circuits and functions to increase our understanding of how different qualities of sensory sensations are encoded peripherally and integrated centrally, influencing behaviour. We are investigating the mechanisms behind sensory perception change, which can be observed during aging or after exposure to high sound levels, for example in tinnitus, says François Lallemend. Particular emphasis is placed on studying these processes at the single-cell level, spanning entire sensory pathways from the periphery to the brain.
The long-term goal is to create a comprehensive map of the mind’s pathways and examine them at the cellular and molecular level. This includes examining their central integrity and understanding how environmental factors and genetics influence these pathways.
– We aim to perform comparative analyzes in humans to gain insight into how sensory functions can be improved. In addition, this research will contribute to our understanding of how changes in sensory pathways affect not only sensory defects but also impair cognitive function, says François Lallemend.
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