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PhD position in Developmental Neurobiology: to understand the role and mechanism of action of the Prdm12 gene

About This PhD Project

Project Description

We are seeking highly motivated candidates to join us on a project beginning in 2019 on the molecular mechanisms of sensory neurogenesis. We study in particular the nociceptors, the specialized peripheral neurons that detect painful stimuli.

We aim to understand the role and mechanism of action of the Prdm12 gene. Prdm12 encodes an evolutionarily conserved epigenetic regulator of gene expression that has been found mutated in patients that suffer from a rare disease, Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, a dangerous condition that renders individuals completely unable to feel pain since their birth (Chen et al., Nat. Genet., 2015). To understand the molecular mechanisms that cause the painlessness, we are using the frog embryo and have generated Prdm12 null and conditional knock-out mouse models. We expect that the results of our work using these experimental systems as well as the identification of Prdm12 direct targets and interacting partners will help in the development of new strategies for treating pain.

The positions are funded by the Walloon government within the frame of the “Win2wal” program. They are open from 2 to 4 years and starting dates are flexible. The research will be performed in the laboratory of Developmental Genetics (Dr. Eric Bellefroid, that is part of the University of Brussels (ULB) Neuroscience Institute (UNI), the ULB Structural Biology and Biophysic laboratory (Dr. Abel Garcia-Pino, and the laboratory of Neuroscience (Dr. Laurence Ris, at the University of Mons.

Preference will be given to applicants with a background in one of the following: mouse genetics, electrophysiology, cell and molecular biology and genome wide approaches (ChIP-seq,…).

Interested candidates should send a letter of motivation describing past research experiences and full CV to:
Eric Bellefroid (), Laurence Ris () or Abel Garcia Pino () together with the name and e-mail address of 2 references.


Thelie et al., (2015). Prdm12 specifies V1 interneurons through cross-repressive interactions with Dbx1 and Nkx6 genes in Xenopus. Development, 142(19), 3416-3428.
Nagy et al., (2015). The evolutionarily conserved transcription factor PRDM12 controls sensory neuron development and pain perception. Cell Cycle, 14(12), 1799-1808.

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