PhD Offers

Investigate the importance of mitochondria in cognitive processes during aging

Type : Thesis
Start date : 2020-10-30
Team : Belenguer
Experience required :
Remuneration :

Collaboration : CNRS Univ. Toulouse 3 (France) - Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience of Lausanne, (Switzerland)

Checkout websites : and

Twitter : @RememberCrca

Key words: Cognition, mitochondria, brain cells, aging

Summary: The maintenance of healthy mitochondria is critical for brain functions throughout adult life. Aging is associated with a decrease in mitochondrial quality, the decline of biological functions and the development of several diseases. In the mammalian brain, considerable evidence shows that mitochondrial dysfunctions occur early and contribute to the loss of synaptic function and plasticity. In this context, the two research groups involved in this project (CNRS Univ. Toulouse 3 and CHUV Lausanne, Switzerland) recently demonstrated that mitochondrial disorders play a primordial role in hippocampal function and memory performances during Alzheimer's disease. However, it remains unclear how aging per se affects mitochondrial dynamics and functions in the hippocampus and whether mitochondrial defects are causal in neuronal dysfunction. This translational project in close collaboration between Toulouse and Lausanne, will aim to understand the importance of mitochondria in cognition during healthy and pathological aging. Through access to primate and human brain, biobanks (K. Richetin) combined with the manipulation of mitochondrial dynamics targeting hippocampal neural cell populations in mice (M-C. Miquel/ C. Rampon), we will seek for new crucial information linking mitochondria to brain plasticity and cognitive functions throughout aging. We expect that this study will shed light on an unexplored aspect of cognitive diseases, possibly leading to novel diagnostic approaches.

We will give preference to candidates with:

  • Excellent M.Sc. (or equivalent) in Neuroscience or biology
  • Previous experience in immunohistochemical staining, biochemical assays, microscopy (live and confocal is a plus) and animal behavior
  • Excellent English (spoken and written)
  • High degree of motivation and ability to work in an interactive research environment
  • Data analysis and presentation abilities (computer programming skill as MATLAB or R is a plus)

This combination of institutes within the CARe program offers a vibrant and interactive research environment, state-of-the-art equipment, qualified training and enrolment in a local PhD program.

To apply (deadline sept 27th, 2020) : send your CV, motivation letter and reference contacts to:  Marie-Christine MIQUEL and Kevin Richetin

Thesis : Risk assessment of carbon nanotubes in an emerging cellular model: Physarum polycephalum

Type : Doctoral contract
Start date : 2020-10-01
Team : Jeanson
Experience required :
Remuneration :

The aim of this thesis project is to measure the impact and risks of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) on living organisms. At the industrial level, CNTs are additives of choice for materials and energy. In the medical field, CNTs are used in tissue engineering, imaging and cancer treatment. The toxicity of CNTs has been a source of health concern for the past 20 years. However, little is known about their impact on living beings. We have chosen the myxomycete Physarum polycephalum as a model to assess the impact of CNTs on cells. Myxomycetes live in soil litter, a receptacle and concentrator of pollution. They are essential in the ecosystem because they participate in the recycling of organic matter. They have two unique advantages for this project: 1) their simplicity of organization: we will be able to monitor the internalization of CNTs at the cellular level and 2) their behavioural complexity: we will be able to measure the impact of CNTs on cellular behaviour. The objective of the thesis will be to study the toxicokinetics of CNTs (internalization, distribution, metabolism, persistence and excretion), an essential first step to know the fate of CNTs in the organism and the cytotoxicity of CNTs on the performance of the organism (survival, reproduction, behaviour).

References :

  • Vogel D & Dussutour A 2016. Direct transfer of learned behaviour via cell fusion in non-neural organisms. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY LONDON B. 283 (1845).
  • Dussutour A, Ma Q & Sumpter D 2019. Phenotypic variability predicts decision accuracy in unicellular organisms. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY LONDON B. 286(1896), 20182825.
  • Patino-Ramirez F, Boussard A, Arson C & Dussutour A 2019. Substrate composition directs slime molds behavior. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS. 9(1), 1-14.
  • Liné C, Larue C & Flahaut E 2017. Carbon nanotubes: impacts and behaviour in the terrestrial ecosystem - A review. CARBON. 123, 767-785.
  • Mottier A, Mouchet F, Laplanche C, Cadarsi S, Lagier L, Arnault J-C, Girard H, Léon V, Vazquez E, Sarrieu C, Pinelli E, Gauthier L & Flahaut E 2016. Surface area of carbon nanoparticle: a dose-metric for a more realistic ecotoxicological assessment. NANO LETTERS. 16 (6), 3514-3518.
  • García- Hevia L, Valiente R, Fernández-Luna J. L, Flahaut E, Rodríguez-Fernández L, Villegas J. C, González J & Fanarraga M. L 2015. Inhibition of Cancer Cell Migration by Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes. ADV. HEALTH MATER. 4 (11), 1640–1644.


PhD supervisors :

Audrey Dussutour CR CNRS (

CRCA IVEP team, University of Toulouse III, UMR5169 CNRS.

AD is an ethologist, specialized in the behaviour of Physarum polycephalum. She has shown that P. polycephalum exhibits behaviours previously unsuspected in single-celled organisms. She also showed that Physarum polycephalum was a unique model for testing the impact of environmental disruptors at the cellular level. She has been mastering the breeding and implementation of experimental protocols in this organism for 10 years.

Contact : 05 61 55 64 41

Emmanuel Flahaut DR CNRS (

CIRIMAT NNC team, University of Toulouse III, UMR CNRS 5085 

EF is a chemist, its research activity is focused on the synthesis of carbon nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes (CNT), graphene and associated materials. He is specialized in the functionalization, dispersion and physico-chemical characterization of CNTs. In particular, he has already used Raman spectroscopy and two-photon fluorescence microscopy which allow the detection of CNTs in living tissue. For nearly 15 years, he has been closely interested in the study of their potential toxicity and environmental impact.

Contact : 05 61 55 69 70



  1. Ecotoxicology
  2. Cell biology / microbiology
  3. Behavioural biology

Requested skills:

  • Comply with Good Laboratory Practice
  • Establish a rigorous protocol
  • Carrying out experiments according to a protocol and analyse
  • Performing microscope observations
  • Collecting data and writing them in a laboratory notebook
  • Analyzing the data
  • Discussing data and write reports
  • Writing in English
  • Presenting data to peers
  • Solving technical problems, looking for and propose alternative protocols

Additional skills:

  • Experience of the statistical tool (Software R)
  • Experience in Image Analysis (ImageJ Software)
  • Being able to culture and maintain cell lines
  • Previous experience with carbon nanomaterials


Contract duration: 36 months (funding: UFTMIP/Région Occitanie doctoral contract)

Beginning of contract: 01/10/2020


To apply, send a CV, a cover letter and two letters of recommendation to before June 26, 2020. Incomplete applications will not be considered.



Université Paul Sabatier
118 Route de Narbonne

31062 TOULOUSE Cedex

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