Department of Human Genetics and the College
François Spitz studies the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that control gene expression during mammalian development, with an emphasis on the interplay between the structural organization of the genome and gene regulation. His current project seeks to understand how changes in genome organization or mutations of architectural elements may lead to developmental malformations or oncogenic transformations, and to identify new ways to correct such molecular dysfunctions. Genes controlling embryonic development and organ formation are often regulated by genomic elements located far away from them. Spitz’s research shows that the influence of these distant elements depends on the folding of the chromosome in specific domains and loops. He has developed a series of in vivo genomic engineering tools to unravel the genetic and molecular underpinnings of the associated processes. These experiments reveal key organizing principles of the architecture of the genome and how they may influence genome function and contribute to human phenotypic diversity and genetic susceptibility to diseases.
Spitz holds a PhD in molecular and cellular genetics from the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie in Paris and is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. He previously was a group leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and director of a research unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.