Neurobiology and Development

Cellular Neurobiology

Under the direction of Michel Cayouette

Research Unit

Cellular therapy is a promising approach for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. In order to develop such therapies, however, we need to better understand how neural stem cells are able to produce the different cell types that make up the nervous system. The Cellular Neurobiology Research Unit works to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the decisions made by stem cells during embryonic development, with the aim of being able to reproduce these conditions for the development of safe and effective cellular therapies. 

In particular, team members use the retina as an experimental model, given its accessibility and the relatively limited number of neurons that make it up. In addition, degenerative retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration lead to blindness and unfortunately remain incurable. In the retina, the latest clinical trials and research on the mouse animal model suggest that these therapies may become a reality for the treatment of degenerative retinal diseases. However, a major obstacle persists: it is complex to mimic in vitro all the molecular and cellular interactions that govern the developmental processes of living organisms to induce specific differentiation of stem cells into photoreceptors. It therefore remains essential to deepen the fundamental knowledge of the mechanisms that regulate the differentiation and specification of retinal cells. 

Michel Cayouette

Research Unit Director

  • Director, Cellular Neurobiology Research Unit, IRCM 
  • Full IRCM Research Professor 
  • Full Research Professor, Department of Medicine (accreditation in molecular biology), Université de Montréal
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine), Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University
  • Holder of the Gaëtane and Roland Pillenière Chair in Retina Biology
  • Research Scholar Emeritus, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) 

Other affiliations

  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada
  • Director, Vision Health Research Network, FRQS
  • Member of the Editorial Board, Stem Cells, Neurogenesis, and Journal of Experimental Neuroscience

Degrees and relevant experience

  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Stanford University, United States 
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, University College London, United Kingdom
  • PhD in Neurobiology, Université Laval 
Michel Cayouette
Research Unit Director
Sepideh Abbasi
Postdoctoral Fellow
Shahrzad Bahrampour
Postdoctoral Fellow
Camille Boudreau-Pinsonneault
PhD student
Thomas Brown
PhD Student
Yulia Ezhova
M.Sc. Student
Michel Fries
PhD student
Sarah Hales
M.Sc. student
Michael Housset
Postdoctoral fellow
Awais Javed
PhD student
Christine Jolicoeur
Research Assistant
Marine Lacomme
Research Associate
Maeva Langouet
Postdoctorat Fellow
Maude Vinette
M.Sc. student

Découvertes importantes



  • University of British Columbia, Neuroscience Research Colloquia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Alberta Vision Network Research Day, Plenary Speaker, Edmonton, Canada
  • Ohio State University, Neuroscience Seminar Series, Columbus, Ohio, USA


  • University of California Davis, iBIO seminar series, USA
  • Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA
  • University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), Department of Neuroscience, USA
  • University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), Ophthalmology Grand Rounds, USA
  • The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
  • International Society for Eye Research, Tokyo, Japan
  • KAIST Symposium on genetic control of cell fate, Daejong, South Korea
  • Till and McCulloch Meeting, Stem Cell Network, Whistler, BC
  • 2nd International Stem Cells and Cancer Conference, Lyon, France

Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) Emeritus Research Scholar. (2017-2021)
Project title: “Comprendre les mécanismes cellulaires et moléculaires menant à la production de la diversité neuronale dans le système nerveux : vers l'élaboration de thérapies celllaires améliorées”
Gäetane and Roland Pillenière Chair in Retina Biology (2016-2026)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). (2016-2021)
Project tile: Molecular mechanisms regulating temporal identity in neural progenitors 
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). (2016-2021)
Project tile: Temporal identity factors in retinal progenitors: opening new avenues for cell therapy in retinal degenerations.
Foundation Fighting Blindness – Canada. (2016-2021)
Project tile: Temporal identity factors in retinal progenitors: opening new avenues for cell therapy in retinal degenerations – A translational study 
Alzheimer Society / Brain Canada. (2016-2019)
Project tile: Novel Mechanisms regulating intraneuronal Tau clearance as potential targets for Alzheimer’s disease

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Contact information

Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM)
110, des Pins Avenue West
Montréal, Québec  H2W 1R7

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Neurobiology and Development