The Société Française de Biologie du Développement (SFBD) thesis prize was awarded to Mélanie Gracia for her thesis entitled: “Epithelio-Mesenchymal Transition and Apoptosis: Cellular Dynamics and the Role of Snail in Drosophila melanogaster”.
Mélanie Gracia did her thesis under the supervision of Dr. Magali Suzanne, at the Centre de Biologie Intégrative in Toulouse.
Using advanced techniques such as rapid in-depth imaging in living tissue, laser microdissection and biophysical modeling, Mélanie Gracia demonstrated during her thesis a new mechanical function of Drosophila cells undergoing an epithelio-mesenchymal transition (EMT): before detaching from their neighbors, these cells generate a force that causes the deformation of the apical surface of the neighbors by pulling them towards the depth of the epithelium. Cells that undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition therefore actively participate in the remodelling of the tissue they are about to leave.
This work was published in the journal Nature Communications.