Appointment of Marc Claret, Group leader
Everything is connected

Current research

Problem

Humans are the result of evolution within an environment of scarcity, where physical activity and caloric restriction were common. But today’s lifestyles, characterised by sedentarism and a dietary excess of fats and carbohydrates, have caused an epidemic of diabetes and obesity. Unfortunately, non-invasive therapeutic tools are scarce and inefficient. Therefore, it is essential to understand the mechanisms that regulate metabolism and body weight in order to design safe and powerful drugs.

Approach

The central nervous system controls many physiological functions, including appetite and body weight. The group aims to understand the molecular mechanisms through which specific neuronal circuits, and especially hypothalamic ones, regulate food intake, body weight and metabolism. It also investigates the relationship between food and emotional behaviour.

Impact

The group has established that maintaining the shape of the mitochondria (the part of the cells responsible for providing energy), and therefore their function, within a specific population of neurons, is essential to respond adequately to certain hormones and nutrients. Whenever there are defects in these processes, diabetes and obesity appear. It is currently investigating, from various perspectives, the role played by mitochondria with respect to appetite and body weight in different neuronal populations. It is also developing paradigms to study in depth the relationships between appetite, cognitive function and emotions.