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Doctorate (M/W): A novel electrophysiological and functional approach applied for measuring neuronal activity in response to diverse stimulations (Neurotrace)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : lundi 5 septembre 2022

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General information

Reference : UMR5051-DANDUN-002
Workplace : TOULOUSE
Date of publication : Monday, July 4, 2022
Scientific Responsible name : Daniel DUNIA
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 3 October 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

A better understanding of the impact of environmental insults (infection, inflammation, pollutants...) on brain function requires the ability to monitor precisely neuronal activity, with the best spatial resolution, as well as in a non-invasive manner to allow longitudinal follow-up over time.

To face this challenge, a collaboration has been established these past years between biologists specialized in infectiology located at Infinity and physicists from the LAAS-CNRS.
This allowed the development of new sensors to probe neuronal activity, based on the use of "nano-electrode arrays (NEA)" using Silicium nanowires. This Ph.D. project now aims at applying the novel system aimed at exploring neuronal activity to address several questions. This project will be articulated around complementary research aims:
- To apply NEA recordings to assess the impact on neuronal activity of a virus-derived protein endowed with neuroprotective properties. We have recently shown that this protein, as well as a cell-permeable peptide derived from it, acts as an "energy booster" of neuronal mitochondria-based bioenergetics. We now wish to decipher the resulting consequences on inter-neuronal communication, both at steady-state and upon response to stress;
- Even if primary neuronal cultures are of routine use in our team, a pre-requisite for this project will be to standardize 2D neuronal cultures (from rodent cortex and/or hippocampus, but also possibly neurons differentiated from human iPSC), notably concerning the optimization of interactions with the nanoprobes together with long-term viability. These parameters will be instrumental for properly addressing the underlying scientific objectives.
- Another technological aspect, which will be undertaken together with LASS-CNRS engineers specialized in signal analysis and treatment, aims at developing standardized procedures for the analysis and processing of the measured electrical signals (e.g., in terms of frequencies, spike sorting, etc.), in order to maximize the relevance of the measures performed.
In the mid-term, the project objectives are thus to deliver a sensitive, versatile and powerful system to allow a precise monitoring of inter-neuronal communication, as well as to gather novel information concerning a virus-derived neuroprotective protein, which is currently being tested as a candidate therapeutic tool against neurodegenerative disorders.

Work Context

This project is supported by the call "Prime" from the CNRS MITI, as well as by funds from the two participating laboratories. Most of the biological studies will be performed at Infinity, whereas nanoprobe development and signal analysis will be done at LAAS-CNRS. The two laboratories are located in Toulouse (15-minute drive between both sites) and the two thesis directors have already directed two Ph.D. thesis together. Nevertheless, it is expected that the successful candidate will be autonomous, flexible and willing to move from one site to the other when required.

Constraints and risks

The candidate may have to work under infectious biocontainment (BSL-2). According to the requirements of the project, working outside of the regular hours (or on weekends) may be required

Additional Information

Experience in Neurobiology and/or electrophysiology would desirable

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