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PhD student (H/F)

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Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : UMR9197-ODILEC2-048
Workplace : GIF SUR YVETTE
Date of publication : Monday, July 22, 2019
Scientific Responsible name : JOVANIC Tihana :
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2019
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

-------- Project: How is sensory information transformed into appropriate motor output
Somehow animals transform sensory information about the environment into a set of patterned muscle contractions that drive behavior. These “sensorimotor transformations” allow animals to respond to the external world and are absolutely critical for survival (i.e. to avoid danger or approach food/mates, etc). It is known that sensorimotor transformations are implemented by neural circuits that span the nervous system from the sensory neuron (input) to the motor neurons (output). But the structure and function of these circuits is poorly understood at the cellular and synaptic level. Gaining this knowledge is absolutely required for understanding the genetic basis of behavior, and has implications for evolution, biomedicine, and robotics.

In complex brains, it is challenging to map the circuitry from sensory inputs to motor outputs. We propose to study the structure and function a neural circuit underlying sensorimotor behaviors in the moderately complex nervous system of larvae of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Specifically, we will study the neural circuitry of sensorimotor behaviors in the context of the Drosophila larval response to a mechanical stimulus the air-puff.

The PhD student will use functional muscle calcium imaging to study the neuromuscular mechanisms underlying avoidance behavior at single cell (individual muscle fiber). The EM volume of the nervous system of larva is available and the PhD student will reconstruct all the circuit elements in the sensorimotor circuitry of interests and trace all the connections from the sensory to the motor neuron output.
Finally, the student will combine the genetic tools in Drosophila to manipulate neuronal activity and automated and high-throughput assays manipulation machine-learning based behavioral analysis methods to investigate the function of the identified neurons in the behavior.


The PhD candidate will work on the Neural circuit mechanisms of sensorimotor transformations to combining neural manipulation during behavior, electron microscopy (EM) reconstruction of neuronal connectivity at a synaptic level and functional muscle calcium imaging in the Drosophila larva


- Drosophila genetics
- Behavioral experiments (automated tracking and analysis)
- confocal and 2-photon microscopy (Calcium-imaging)
- electron microscopy reconstruction of synaptic connections.
- Immunohistochemistry in Drosophila nervous system

Work Context


The candidate will work in the team Neural Circuits and Behavior headed by Tihana Jovanic in the Molecules & Circuits department at the newly founded Neuroscience Paris Saclay Institute (Neuro-PSI) in Saclay (20 km south of Paris) dedicated to fundamental research in Neuroscience. NeuroPSI has state-of the art core facilities and the Saclay campus provides a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative environment mixing university and engineering schools, with excellent laboratories in fundamental and applied science. The project will be done in collaboration with the team Development and function of neural circuits in the motor system at the university of Chicago

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