Olivier Ayrault earned his Ph.D. in Fundamental Basis of Oncogenesis from the University of Paris-Diderot and performed his postdoctoral training at Saint-Jude Children’s Hospital in Dr. M. Roussel’s laboratory (Memphis, USA). His studies focused on understanding key mechanisms governing the formation of medulloblastoma (MB), one of the most common malignant brain tumor in children. In 2011, he was appointed as group leader at the Institut Curie and was awarded the ATIP/AVENIR young Investigator grant to start his own group “Signaling in Development and Brain Tumors”. At that time, he was also recruited as a permanent researcher at the French National Research Agency, CNRS.
Olivier Ayrault develops a research oriented towards a continuum between basic and clinical research. His team specifically focuses on deciphering fundamental mechanisms related to the biology of MB. The originality of his work lies on the characterization of the putative relationship existing between underlying mechanisms during cerebellar development and MB formation. For that purpose, he is using a multi-disciplinary approach at the interface of developmental neurobiology and cancer.
Among its work, his team got new insights on how the key player Atoh1 was regulated in both the normal and the disease context, and unravelled novel functions for this protein using advanced and newly developed technology. Their findings gave invaluable information on critical molecular mechanisms implicated into MB that are of interest for the biomedical industry. In parallel, wishing to dissect many more actors involved in the development of MB, his group tackles broader and inherent questions related to the complex biology of this developmental disease. His team developed a multi-omics profiling of all subgroups of MBs, and unveiled a molecular signature for the subgroup the most abundant.
Overall, Olivier Ayrault's group aims (i) to develop innovative tools, (ii) to take advantage of these novel approaches in order to discover fundamental mechanisms underlying MB but also (iii) to further translate this knowledge into biomarkers, diagnostic tools and tailored therapeutic strategies.
At the international level, Olivier Ayrault is the recipient of the prestigious St. Baldrick's Robert J. Arceci International Innovation award. He was also recently elected as translational chair of the SIOPe Embryonal Brain Tumor Group.