Sophie Laguesse rewarded for her work on alcohol consumption in adolescence

Sophie Laguesse, researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Regulation of Neurogenesis (GIGA-Stem Cells & GIGA-Neurosciences), devotes her research to alcohol addiction and more specifically to the study of the effects of binge-drinking (excessive consumption over a short period of time) on adolescent brain maturation. She works on the hypothesis that alcohol abuse in adolescence creates a fault in the development of the brain, by disrupting the maturation of the prefrontal cortex and thus promoting, in adulthood, the switch to addiction with alcohol.

Her research has just been rewarded with 2 remarkable prizes:

- The Collen-Franqui startup grant (€ 200,000 - 3 years) from the Fondation Franqui (BE)

- The Young Investigator Grant (€ 70,000 - 2 years) from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (USA)

About Sophie

Always passionate about science and the brain in particular, Sophie Laguesse undertook studies in biomedical sciences at the University of Liège, followed by a doctorate in Developmental Neurobiology at GIGA-Neurosciences. Her research then focused on the development of the cerebral cortex and ended with the identification of a new mechanism responsible for microcephaly.

After her doctorate, wishing to further broaden her knowledge in neurosciences, she moved on to systems and behavioral neurosciences. So she undertook a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at San Francisco to study the brain mechanisms of alcohol addiction. These three years of research have been crowned by the discovery of a new protein which acts at the level of the "pleasure center" and which explains alcohol addiction behaviors.

Back in Belgium in October 2017, she joined her thesis laboratory to initiate a new project that combines these two research themes and thus studies the effects of alcohol consumption on the maturation of the adolescent brain. Using a mouse model, her first results confirm at the neuronal level the dangerousness of excessive alcohol intake during adolescence, leading to the emergence of defective behaviors in adulthood, including an even more pronounced tendency to alcohol addiction. She now wishes to continue her research in order, on the one hand, to identify new mechanisms of action and new targets for alcohol, which would make it possible to subsequently develop new drugs to fight alcoholism, and on the other hand, to participate in the improvement of prevention strategies against alcohol abuse in adolescence.

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