Catherine Dulac

Harvard University


Election Year: 2015
Primary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member

Biosketch

Catherine Dulac is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a former Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Harvard University. Her work explores the molecular biology of pheromone detection and signaling in mammals, the neural mechanisms underlying age-, species-, and sex-specific behaviors, and the role of genomic imprinting in the developing and adult brain. She graduated from the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, she received her PhD from the University of Paris VI at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Embryology (Nogent-sur-Marne), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, Institute of France and a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. She is a recipient of the Liliane Bettencourt Prize, the Richard Lounsbery Award, the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize, the IPSEN Foundation Neuronal Plasticity prize, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Pradel Research Award.

Research Interests

Catherine Dulac is interested in the neural mechanisms underlying instinctive behaviors in mice. In earlier work she developed single cell cDNA cloning strategies to characterize novel families of pheromone receptors in the vomeronasal organ (VNO), thus providing new avenues of research into the logic of the pheromone-evoked responses in mammals. Her group identified key signaling molecules associated with pheromone detection, developed molecular strategies to uncover signals detected by individual VNO receptors, and investigated the functional organization of discrete pheromone-evoked behaviors circuits. Using new viral, genetic, and electrophysiological strategies to gain information about the brain processing of pheromone signals, her laboratory revealed the key role of VNO inputs in insuring the sex-specificity of pheromone evoked-behaviors, and demonstrated that functional neuronal circuits underlying male and female-specific behaviors co-exist in the brain of both sexes. Recently, her group uncovered a set of hypothalamic neurons expressing the peptide galanin that governs male and female paternal behavior in mice. In addition, her laboratory performed a genome-wide characterization of genomic imprinting in the adult and developing mouse brain, and uncovered large number of novel genes with parent-of-origin allelic expression differences, underscoring genomic imprinting as a major mode of epigenetic regulation in the brain.

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