Professor Marie-Eve Paquet 
CERVO Brain Research Centre


Title: Viral vector and optogenetic tool development challenges; from manipulating the microbiome to sensing metabolic processes to capturing brain activity. 


Our ability to interrogate and modify complex biological systems has improved tremendously in recent years. This progress can largely be attributed to the development of new technologies allowing us to visualize, monitor and modify certain processes. On top of the tremendous efforts deployed to build efficient hardware, great genetically encoded strategies such as optogenetic tools have changed the field of neuroscience. One of the remaining challenges when using these tools is in vivo delivery, for which viral vectors based on recombinant adeno associated viruses (rAAV) have proven very useful. Despite rAAVs favourable characteristics such as their ability to infect nondividing cells and absence of associated pathogenicity, their efficient use as gene transfer vehicles in the central nervous system (CNS) across species represents a tall order: Low transduction efficiency is observed in most neurons, certain cell types are refractory to transduction, existing capsids are not optimised for CNS designed emerging technologies, rAAV packaging is suboptimal and translatability between species is often not documented. By understanding and exploiting AAVs biology and diversity, we are developing innovative, CNS optimised gene transfer strategies. Starting from previously unexplored environmental samples, we have identified new AAV serotypes carrying promising gene transfer potential in rodent and human neurons. The development of standardized methologies and quantitation pipelines to evaluate the transduction efficiency of different AAV serotypes in cell types of various species is critical to ensure that the best combination is being used.


Marie-Eve Paquet, PhD, immunologist in training, is a scientist at the CERVO Brain Research Centre and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at Université Laval. She has been leading a Optogenetics and Vectorology Platform for >10 years. Her research interests include the identification and characterization of new AAV serotypes from environmental samples, optimization of optogenetics tools for in vivo applications, and the development of molecular tools to study the gut microbiota. The platform she leads has become the largest academic supplier of viral vectors in Canada, specializing in custom optogenetic tool and AAV design and packaging. The have distributed thousands of custom tools and vectors in >50 universities worldwide.

About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018