Published: 07-12-2023 12:01 | Updated: 07-12-2023 15:52

Francois Lallemend new professor at the Department of Neuroscience

Photo: Saida Hadjab

Congratulations to Principal researcher and research group leader Francois Lallemend, who has been appointed Professor of Neurobiology of Sensory Systems at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet from 1 December 2023.

Francois Lallemend completed his master’s degree in biology at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Liege, Belgium, where he pursued a Ph.D. at the Faculty of Medicine within the Center of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at the same university. His doctoral research centered on investigating novel survival pathways in vitro to develop new strategies for improving the survival of auditory neurons under stress conditions.

After receiving his Ph.D., he moved to Stockholm for postdoctoral studies at Karolinska Institutet, working in the laboratory of Patrik Ernfors, at the Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics Department.

There, he transitioned to a different research focus, exploring the molecular and spatiotemporal regulation of neural crest cell differentiation, encompassing cells of the sensory lineage and melanocytes.

In 2011, after receiving an Assistant Professorship position and grant from the Vetenskapsrådet, he established his own research group at the Molecular Neurobiology Division at the Department of (MBB).
In 2013, he joined the Department of Neuroscience, where he was recently appointed as Professor in the field of Neurobiology of Sensory Systems.

Current research

A significant portion of the nervous system is dedicated to the integration and perception of sensory information, emphasizing the importance of sensory experiences in our daily lives. Typically, processing sensory information is a subconscious and automatic process that provides the in- and outside contexts necessary for us to comprehend the world and interact with our surroundings. For example, hearing facilitates communication with the environment, shaping our lives, while our sense of movement (proprioception and balance) is crucial for controlling body movement and posture, enabling interaction with the environment.

The ability to perceive these sensations relies on specialized cell types within our sensory systems that transmit specific sensory qualities. Therefore, unraveling the intricate physical substrate and understanding the molecular mechanisms governing peripheral sensory perception are essential for comprehending their role in health and disease.

“Our research program delves into molecules, cell types, circuits, and function to enhance our understanding of how various qualities of sensory perceptions are encoded peripherally and integrated centrally, influencing behavior. We explore the mechanisms behind altered sensory perception, as observed during aging or after exposure to loud noise, such as in conditions like tinnitus”, says Francois Lallemend. Particular focus lies on investigating these processes at the single-cell level, spanning the entire sensory pathways from the periphery to the brain.

A long-term goal is to create a comprehensive circuit mapping of sensory pathways, examining them at both cellular and molecular levels. This includes investigating their central integration and understanding how environmental factors and genetics influence these pathways.

“We aim to conduct comparative analyses in humans, seeking insights into improving sensory functions. Additionally, this research will contribute to our understanding of how alterations in sensory pathways can not only impact sensory perception but also impair cognitive function”.