Research team


Our research group 'Molecular Interactions in Model and Biological Membranes’ is internationally recognized for studies of lipid-lipid and lipid-protein interactions pertaining to virus fusion, amyloid aggregation, oligomerization and pore formation. Together with Prof. Nouara Yahi, who co-leads the team, we have discovered the universal sphingolipid-binding domain (SBD) in unrelated proteins with no sequence homology but sharing common structural features mediating sphingolipid recognition. The SBD is present in a broad range of infectious and amyloid proteins, revealing common mechanisms of pathogenesis in viral and bacterial brain infections, and in neurodegenerative diseases. Our current research is focused on the molecular organization of the synapse in physiological and pathological conditions. We have deciphered the ganglioside code used by amyloid proteins to bind to the surface of brain cells and then the molecular mechanisms of amyloid pore formation by small oligomers of Alzheimer’s b-amyloid peptide and a-synuclein. These discoveries have allowed the design of a chimeric peptide with broad anti-amyloid pore activity, opening new avenues for innovative therapeutic strategies against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Our last Ph. student, Coralie Di Scala has defended her thesis on the role of cholesterol in the oligomerization of Alzheimer's beta amyloid peptide in December 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Henri Chahinian and Prof. Jacques Fantini.

Prof. Jacques Fantini 

(with cat Merlette)




Keywords: computational biology, neurodegenerative diseases, biochemistry, membrane lipids, lipid rafts, cholesterol, hopanoids, glycosphingolipids, amyloid pores, molecular modeling, quantum biology.



Prof. Nouara Yahi




Keywords: molecular biology, lipid-protein interactions, Langmuir monolayers, cholesterol, sphingolipid binding domain (SBD), tilted peptides, common mechanisms of membrane binding and insertion shared by viruses, bacteria and amyloid proteins.


PubMed records: 92 articles (h-index 40)



Dr. Henri Chahinian




Keywords: biochemistry, interfacial catalysis, lipases, esterases, endocannabinoids, ceramidase, amyloid pores, sphingolipids, cholesterol.


PubMed records: 32 articles (h-index 23)


Dr. Coralie Di Scala




Ph.D. student in our group under the supervision of Henri Chahinian and Jacques Fantini.


Ph.D. thesis (2014): Role of cholesterol on the oligomerization process of Alzheimer's beta amyloid pepide.


Keywords: amyloid pores, calcium imaging, cell culture, neural cells, Langmuir monolayers, brain lipids, ceramide, anandamide


PubMed records: 18 articles (h-index: 10)










Dr. Nicolas Garmy


Ph.D. student in our group under the supervision of Nouara Yahi and Jacques Fantini.


Ph.D. thesis (2005): Lipid-lipid and lipid-protein interactions involved in plasma membrane microdomains.


Assistant Professor in Biochemistry (2009)


Key words: bioinformatics, molecular modeling, theoretical biology, lipid-lipid and lipid-protein interactions


How I wish... how I wish you were here...