Presenter: Dr. Tim Murphy
Pierre J. Magistretti is an internationally recognized neuroscientist in the fields of brain energy metabolism and glia biology. He holds an MD from the University of Geneva and a PhD in Biology from UCSD. He currently serves as a Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Prior to joining KAUST, he was the Director at both the Brain Mind Institute at EPFL, and the Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience at the University of Lausanne Medical School. Professor Magistretti’s research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain energy metabolism.
His lab has identified the mechanisms by which neuronal activity is coupled to the delivery of energy to active neurons. In particular he has revealed the role of astrocytes, a type of glial cell, in this coupling as they can sense synaptic activity and provide energy substrates to meet the demands of neurons. This work has a significant impact in functional brain imaging because it provides the cellular and molecular basis for understanding the signals that these imaging techniques detect. Another aspect of Professor Magistretti’s work is the connection of neuronal activity to synaptic plasticity over hours or days, which is thought to underlie learning and memory. His lab is currently pursuing the cutting-edge field of “metabolic plasticity”, where metabolic adaptations among glial cells occur in connection with the functional and structural changes of synaptic plasticity. In this context, his work has characterized little-known aspects of neurotransmitter-regulated energy metabolism, e.g. glycogen mobilization in astrocytes triggered by neuronal activity and demonstrated the role of glycogen-derived lactate in neuronal plasticity and memory. This work has important ramifications for the development of therapeutic strategies in neurodegenerative diseases.
He is the author of over 240 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has delivered over 60 invited, keynote, plenary and distinguished lectures over the past five years. Pierre Magistretti has served the international scientific community in numerous roles, including past President of the Federation of European Neurosciences (FENS), and current President of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO). He was elected to the International Chair at the College de France for the year 2007-2008. He is an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences. Recent accolades include his being awarded the Camillo Golgi Medal (2011), and the 2016 Foundation IPSEN Plasticity prize for contributions to the field of neuroenergetics.