Celine Cluzeau


1. What is your research focus?

Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell migration and differentiation.Cardiac genomics and genes involved in atrial fibrillation.

2. What current project are you excited about?

I recently generated a new transgenic line to look at gene expression changes in neural crest cells, and I am quite excited to start using it to identify key factors driving their differentiation into sensory neurons.

3. How long have you been working with zebrafish?

It has been a little over 5 years now, I started working with zebrafish during my first postdoctoral fellowship.

Getting to know you better…

4. Where were you born/where did you grow up?

I was born in a small town called Niort, located in the center West of France, roughly halfway between Nantes and Bordeaux. I lived there until I went to college.

5. When did you realize you wanted to be a scientist?

I was always very interested by the sciences and wanted to do research when I entered high school. I found biology fascinating, especially molecular and cellular interactions, and how a small genetic modification could derail normal development and organ function.

6. Where did you do your undergraduate studies? Did you do research with anyone?

I started my undergraduate studies in a two-year intensive preparatory program for higher education science and engineering schools (Lycée Camille Guérin, Poitiers, France), and then enrolled at the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon (INA P-G, Paris, France). My first research experience was a five-week internship, studying changes in gene expression during the response of the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana to the pathogen Erwinia chrysanthemi (Dr. Alia Dellagi, INA P-G, Paris, France). I also did a summer internship, working on the development of a cellular model permissive to a pathogenic prion variant (Drs Beringue and Vilette, INRA, Jouy-en-Josas, France).

7. Where did you do graduate studies and with whom? What did you work on?

I obtained my Ph.D. from the Université Paris Descartes (France), doing research in the INSERM Unit 781 directed by Pr. Arnold Munnich at Necker Hospital in Paris. I was working in the team directed by Dr. Asma Smahi on understanding the role of two signaling pathways, Edar/NF-kB and Wnt/b-catenin, on ectodermal appendages development.

8. Where did you do postdoctoral studies and with who? What did you work on?

I did my first postdoctoral fellowship at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD/NIH, Bethesda, MD), working in Dr. Porter’s team. The focus on my work was to determine the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying two neurological disorders using mouse and zebrafish models. I just started my second postdoctoral position at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in Dr. Saxena’s team.

9. What other jobs have you had? 

I taught a few classes in biochemistry and cellular biology.

Science and Careers…

10. Share a turning point or defining moment in your science/career.

In graduate school, we had to attend a career development symposium at least once before graduating. I attended about 1.5 years before graduating. Although I initially went because it was mandatory, listening to the panelists talking about the time and effort required to prepare for a job search helped me realize that I had to start thinking about life after graduation.

11. If you could be present for any "Eureka" moment in history (i.e. the moment some scientific discovery was made), which moment would you choose? Why? 

I would love to go back in time to meet Gregor Mendel. I found it quite fascinating that he was able to describe the laws governing genetic inheritance without knowing anything about the underlying molecules driving it.

12. What advice would you give to someone considering a career in science/research?

Do an internship in a research lab as soon as you can, to test whether you like this work environment or not. And participate in career development activities, to develop soft skills, and explore career possibilities. Start thinking early about the next step in your career, as this type of decision takes time.

13Where do you think the next scientific breakthroughs are going to occur?

Hopefully we will have new sustainable energy sources soon. And I am not sure if I will see it happens, but I would love for teleportation to be possible – it would make long-distance travel so much easier

 Outside of work…

14. What do you enjoy doing outside of work/lab?

I like spending time with friends and family. I enjoy listening to music, photography and discovering new places and cultures. 

15. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A nice freshly baked bread with a good piece of cheese.

16. What are you reading right now (not including research papers)?

"Fool’s Quest" by Robin Hobb.

 17. Name a favorite song or musical piece.

Very difficult to name only one, I would say “Wolf” by First Aid Kit.

18. Favorite place you have lived or visited?

Miyajima island, Japan

19. What career would you like to attempt if you could?


20. Provide a quote that speaks to you.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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