Benoit Laurent, Neurons under the Microscope

Epigeneticist Benoit Laurent has joined the CdRV as an active researcher in the Geroscience Axis. An expert in chromatin regulatory mechanisms, Dr. Laurent is also a professor with the biochemistry department of the Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé de l’Université de Sherbrooke.

Eight years at Harvard

Born in France, Benoit Laurent started his university studies in cell biology and physiology at the Université de Poitiers in his native region. He then went on to complete a doctorate in hematology at Institut Cochin (Université de Paris Descartes, France). Dr. Laurent took a particular interest in the molecular mechanisms of cellular differentiation of red blood cells.

Then, in the U.S., he completed a postdoctorate over a period of eight years at the Harvard Medical School and at the Boston Children’s Hospital to develop his knowledge and expertise in epigenetics and in the biology of RNA molecules. He notably worked on neuronal differentiation mechanisms and on DNA damage repair mechanisms.

Probing neurons

During his future investigations at the CdRV, Dr. Laurent will focus more specifically on neurons and brain cells, and the processes which govern their differentiation.

"I am trying to understand whether such processes are deregulated in aging or in neurodegenerative diseases" explain Dr. Laurent.

A first project with researchers Mélanie Plourde and Nancy Presse will centre on the effect of nutrition on certain brain functions. Dr. Laurent will also conduct part of his research with Dr. Rona Graham, an expert in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Dr. Laurent will also collaborate with Dr. Raymund Wellinger on projects relating to telomere biology.

He mentions:  "I had the option of going to many other countries to pursue my career. I chose Estrie because of the expertise of the research teams and of the human qualities of their members."

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