I was born on December 4 th , 1964. I studied biology at the University of Liège and received my PhD in 1994 for a work in cellular and molecular physiology for which I developed in Liège the patch-clamp technique that I learned in Helmut Kettenmann’s lab in Heidelberg. I was then appointed as an
associate professor in Physiology (“premier assistant” and then “chef de travaux”) at the University of Liège. In 2002, I went for a sabbatical research period to the University Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris to study glycinergic neurotransmission using advanced molecular electrophysiology. In 2004, I
joined the physiology group at Hasselt University to develop an independent research program in neurobiology. I became head of the group in 2009 and full professor in 2010.
My research concerns the plasticity of excitability in brain development and regeneration. In close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Bert Brône, we study neuronal and microglial aspects in the etiology of autism and schizophrenia. In a first research line, the lab discovered the glycine receptor subunit alpha2 as an essential component for embryonic brain development and that its loss of function induces dysfunction of neuronal circuits involved in autism spectrum disorder. In a second research line, microglia are studied as immune mediators contributing to neurodevelopmental diseases.
I authored 108 peer-reviewed publications and has been (co)promoter of 26 PhD’s and (co)investigator for 42 research contracts.
I teach, among other, general physiology and neurosciences to (bio)medical students at Hasselt University. Since my position in Liège, I have also developed expertise in self-learning methods, e-learning and virtual labs, as well as in evaluation of learning and of teaching. From 2009 to 2012, I headed the department of Physiology-Immunology-Biochemistry and the education management team of the master in biomedical sciences, and I was vice-dean of the Shool of Life Sciences (Transnational University of Limburg). Since 2006, I have also been actively involved in development cooperation projects (RD Congo, Vietnam and Morocco).
From 2012 to 2016, I was vice-rector of Education and of Internationalization, and from 2016 to 2020, I was vice-rector of Research and Internationalization at Hasselt University.
Five main publications relevant to the application
(‡ = equally contributed)
Morelli,G., Avila,A., Ravanidis,S., Aourz,N., Neve,R.L., Smolders,I., Harvey,R.J., Rigo,J.-M.‡, Nguyen,L.‡ and Brône,B.‡, Cerebral cortical circuitry formation requires functional glycine receptors, Cerebral Cortex, 27 (2017) 1863-1877. [IF=6,308 (2017); Neurosciences 24/261, Q1]
Avila,A., Vidal,P.M., Tielens,S., Morelli,G., Laguesse,S., Harvey,R.J., Rigo,J.-M.‡ and Nguyen,L.‡, Glycine receptors control the generation of projection neurons in the developing cerebral cortex, Cell Death and Differentiation, 21 (2014) 1696-1708. [IF=8,184 (2014); Biochemistry & Molecular biology 24/290, Q1]
Avila,A., Vidal,P.M., Dear,T.N., Harvey,R.J., Rigo,J.-M.‡ and Nguyen,L.‡, Glycine receptor alpha2 subunit activation promotes cortical interneuron migration, Cell Reports, 4 (2013) 738-750. [IF=7,207 (2013); Cell Biology 32/185, Q1]
Rigo,J.-M., Badiu,C.I. and Legendre,P., Heterogeneity of postsynaptic receptor occupancy fluctuations among glycinergic inhibitory synapses, Journal of Physiology (London), 553 (2003) 819-832. [IF=4,352 (2003); Physiology 7/74, Q1]
Nguyen,L., Malgrange,B., Breuskin,I., Bettendorf,L., Moonen,G., Belachew,S . and Rigo,J.-M., Autocrine/paracrine activation of the GABAA receptor inhibits the proliferation of neurogenic PSA-NCAM+ precursor cells from postnatal striatum, Journal of Neuroscience, 23 (2003) 3278-3294. [IF=8,306 (2003); Neurosciences 10/198, Q1]