Since 2005, the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation has been a partner of Inserm’s Avenir program. In 2009, it also partnered with the CNRS ATIP program, which helps top-level young researchers with outstanding research projects who wish to create their own team and return or move to France. The ATIP-Avenir program has become synonymous with excellence, providing a springboard for members to obtain further financing. The grant amounts to 300,000€. Since the Foundation joined the program, 14 such grants have been awarded to ten French researchers returning to France and three researchers from other countries settling in France. Five of their teams are based in Paris, three in Bordeaux, three in Toulouse, two in Montpellier and one in Marseille.
« Cerebral function depends upon proper communication between millions of neurons. I am interested in the circuit responsible for visual detection of motion. I try to understand how those neurons are connected within the optical lobe, which is the center for visual information processing in the brain. My objective is to understand the mechanisms through which neurons organize themselves into that specific network during development. »
Each and every neuron fulfills precise functions and connects to other specific neurons. A neuron’s activity derives directly from its morphology and its connections. During embryological development, it is known that genetics play a great part in how neurons settle, however the process remains poorly understood. What is known for certain is that developmental and connectivity defects may give rise to serious pathologies. Microcephaly, neurodegeneration, schizophrenia and autism have all been linked to aberrations in neuronal development. Some neurological anomalies might also result in ocular diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.
PhD in Biomedicine
Research scientist at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB), United Arab Emirates.
Research scientist at the Center for Developmental Biology (CBD)/Center for Integrative Biology (CBI) in Toulouse, France, since February 2020.
Filipe Pinto Teixeira is interested in the mechanisms that underlie the genesis and organization of motion vision neurons.
Just like human beings, the drosophila fruit fly is equipped with neurons that help detect motion of visual stimuli in the four cardinal directions : left to right, top to bottom... Motion detection is absolutely fundamental for any animal...in motion, and this is even truer for an animal in motion that flies in three dimensions !
Dr. Teixeira is building his ow specialized research team dedicated to studying neurodevelopment in drosophila, at the Center for Developmental Biology in Toulouse. The ATIP-Avenir grant will give him the means to start recruiting and to buy equipment for his laboratory.
Thanks to imaging and genomics tools, he will be able to modify gene expression in any neuron of the vision circuitry, at any given time throughout brain development. Such experiments will help understand which genes are expressed and when as well as how neurons acquire their identities and create a distinct circuit that supports motion vision. This study will open the way towards new therapeutic strategies for neuronal function restoration. The project will also shed new light onto vision and its general principles as well as onto the behavior of animals when dealing with motion.