Genomics Core Facility

Gael CRISTOFARI, Research Director, DR2 Inserm


Research Director, DR2 Inserm
Tel: +33 (4) 89 15 36 43
Gael Cristofari has obtained a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon with J.-L. Darlix (2002, France) focusing on the reconstitution of viral and viral-like replication complexes in vitro to study viral replication. In 2003, he joined the lab of Joachim Lingner at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) as an EMBO long-term postdoctoral fellow. There he worked on telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein essential to stabilize telomere length and to maintain the immortal phenotype of cancer cells. He identified which of its subunits are limiting in human primary and cancer cells, allowing to considerably increase telomerase activity in vivo. These so-called “super-telomerase” cells have proven to be a highly valuable experimental resource, both to understand the regulation and trafficking of this enzyme within cells, but also to develop novel assays to measure its activity or to evaluate anticancer drugs. After being appointed tenured scientist by the French National Institute of Health (Inserm), Gael obtained an Inserm Avenir award (2009) and a highly competitive starting grant from the European Research Council (ERC, 2010-2014) to start his research group at the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging of Nice (IRCAN, France). There, he started to investigate how transposable elements - also known as “jumping genes” - contribute to the plasticity of our genome and their impact on human health. His group has developed innovative approaches involving high-throughput sequencing, genomics, epigenomics and bioinformatics to measure the activity of jumping genes in normal and cancer cells with unprecedented resolution. In 2016, he was appointed Inserm Research Director at IRCAN where he leads an international team. In parallel, Gael has also created and is heading the IRCAN genomics facility, which is used both by basic research teams and for clinical applications. He received the Jacques Piraud Prize (2003) from the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM) and is a laureate of the French National Academy of Medicine (Albert Sézary Prize, 2009, Mitjaville Prize 2020).


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