Emmanuel Nivet (2004 graduate)

    Emmanuel Nivet

    Your career path after graduating from the master's ?

    After my master's, I obtained a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience in the  Integrative and Adaptive Neuroscience laboratory (NIA, CNRS - UMR 6149), under Prof. François Roman's supervision. My work focused on adult human stem cells and their use for cell therapy. I defended my thesis in December 2008.

    Alongside my PhD, I also had teaching activities within Aix Marseille University (formerly knwon as the University of Provence), as part of a 3-year mentoring contract. These teaching activities were accompanied by a training at the higher education initiation center (CIES).

    In 2009, I joined the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (San Diego, US) and the laboratory of Dr. Juan Carlos Belmonte Izpisúa for a postdoctoral training, which lasted over 4 years. This training allowed me to learn new approaches in cell reprogramming and to develop various projects addressing a wide spectrum of topics in biology.

    In 2014, I got a grant from the Fondation Plan Alzheimer to join the laboratory of Neurobiology of Cellular Interactions and Neurophysiopathology (NICN, Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, UMR 7259), directed by Dr Michel Khrestchatisky.

    In 2015, I was selected at the 1st class researcher ("chargé de recherche de première classe", CR1) exam at INSERM and CNRS, then chose to work at the CNRS. Since October 1st, 2015, I am continuing my research in the NICN laboratory as a CR1 researcher.

    What are your duties?

    Currently, my research activities are primarily concerned with developing in cellulo human disease modeling platforms, using "cellular reprogramming" approaches to study the pathophysiological mechanisms of central nervous system diseases. I study both the impact of genetics and the effects of the cellular microenvironment on the development/progression of neurodegenerative diseases. The cellular platforms that I develop also serve the purpose of identifying new targets and/or therapeutic molecules. Therefore, I essentially aim at developing translational research.

    What aspects of your work do you like the most?

    A researcher's daily activity is quite stimulating from an intellectual point of view, with a variety of tasks: laboratory experiments, project management, personnel management, writing (scientific articles, grant application, project advancement reports), presentations of scientific work. This greatly diminishes routine, making each of my days unique and often unexpected.

    Furthermore, I must constantly question and renew myself to stay competitive in my research.

    Moreover, whether through my readings or meetings/discussions with other scientists, my work is an infinite source of new knowledge.

    Overall, and although I consider my profession as very serious, I personally am pleased to approach science in a "playful" way. Indeed, implementing (or even developing) methods to answer the questions I address resembles a treasure hunt, with a progressive search for clues to validate (or not) our working hypotheses.

    If one adds the "relative" freedom in choosing the questions we want to address, I find in my daily activity all the necessary ingredients for me to find professional fulfilment.

    What are its constraints?

    Of course, my work is also accompanied by a number of constraints which often generate stress/fatigue.

    First, I must mention that my work weeks are frequently dotted with "deadlines", and my workdays often resemble a race against time. These deadlines combined with my many obligations make my work quite time-consuming. If one adds to this the fact that my research involves laboratory work on the weekend, it is no secret that I have little free time to devote to my "private" life.

    Besides the time constraint, I will cite the economic constraints related to my work. Indeed, my research activities are expensive and require that I invest a lot of time and energy in asking for grants to develop my projects, which greatly reduces my involvement in direct research activity; for this bench work, I rely essentially on my team, composed of very competent non-statutory staff that I hire through consecutive contracts. This system makes my research operate on an unstable balance, which can generate stress, as it largely depends on my ability to raise funds and to be scientifically successful.

    Interview given in May 2016

    The advantages

    The neuroscience master’s was for me an obvious step towards a Ph.D.,  especially to get a first impression on my desire to continue (or not) in laboratory research. The Neuroscience DEA (former name of the master’s) offered me my first real immersion in a research laboratory, and this is the most important asset of this training.

    Subsequently, I received full confidence from my supervisor, which gave me great freedom and autonomy to carry out my PhD. This mode of management allowed me to understand the research profession as a whole:

    • asking for grants;
    • developing of a project from a conceptual point of view and implementing it concretely, including looking for research collaborators;
    • writing scientific articles.

    This allowed me to develop skills that were quite useful during my postdoct in order to stand out in a highly competitive environment where complete autonomy was essential. So a certain self-taught (though guided) approach to research helped me to handle failures and to find solutions to problems that arise in a researcher’s career. All this led me to build my own path and my own scientific identity, which certainly contributed to my recruitment.

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