In what field was your PhD? How did you arrive at this specialization?
I received a PhD in Neurosciences at the University of Auvergne (France) in the field of pain. Most of my research has been focused on understanding somatosensory circuits in the spinal cord dorsal horn (which neurons transmit touch and pain). My very first job when I was a first year undergraduate student in Bordeaux (France) was related to studying spinal circuits underlying chronic pain and this has become an obsession ever since. I joined a talented group in the Neurobiology department of Pittsburgh in 2012 and we are aggressively working on unravelling and understanding spinal circuits, which are still not well understood.
What is your current research project?
My current research projects focus on manipulating the activity of specific types of neurons that reside in the spinal cord and understanding their role in behavior. In parallel, we are using powerful tracers from those cells to reveal their connectivity to other neurons within the spinal cord. The main goal of this ambitious project is to build a functional and anatomical map of the spinal cord dorsal horn to specifically target the dysfunctional circuits that are activated during somatosensory diseases such as chronic pain.
Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had in the past year.
There have been a number of great experiences since I came to Pittsburgh. Some of the greatest are the publications that I have gotten and the remarkable group of pain researchers that I have met.
What do you hope the next step in your career path will be?
Like many of us I am oriented toward an academic position, which gives me excitement and interest. I will remain in Pittsburgh a little longer, but in parallel I am also looking for a faculty position.
If not a scientist, what would you be?
I don’t think I will ever be separated from the science. If I had to switch gears, I would likely look for any position in industry or teaching that would somehow be oriented to new discoveries.