Yann Barrandon


Yann Barrandon graduated in Medicine in Paris where he also trained as a dermatologist and completed his PhD “on the long term cultivation of human haematopoietic stem cells” in 1982 under the direction of Dr. Catherine Dresch (Centre Hayem, St Louis Hospital). He worked as a post-doctoral fellow (1982-1983) with Pr. Marvin Karasek in the Department of Dermatology at Stanford University CA, and then with Pr. Howard Green, a pioneer in cell therapy, in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Harvard Medical School (1983-1990). During this period, he participated in the world's first transplantations of epidermal stem cells on extensive third degree wounds and contributed several seminal findings including the demonstration of stem cells in cultures of human keratinocytes (PNAS 1987), and that human keratinocyte stem cells could be efficiently transduced by retroviral vectors (Science 1987), in collaboration with Richard Mulligan at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Massachussets Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA). He has also participated to the transfer of the stem cell technology from Harvard University to a spin off biotechnology company, now part of Genzyme Corp.

He returned to France in 1990 as Director of Research at the INSERM and Head of Lab at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. During this period, he demonstrated the presence of multipotent clonogenic stem cells in hair follicles (Cell 1994, 2001) and successfully brought stem cells from bench to bedside demonstrating the usefulness of a fibrin matrix to transplant epidermal stem cells. (Transplantation, 2000). Following his move to Lausanne, Yann Barrandon has shown that oligopotent stem cells are present in the mammalian cornea (Nature 2008), challenging previous dogma. He has also contributed to the characterisation of several skin diseases (Nature Genetics, 1993a, 1993b, 2000, 2005) and towards gene therapy of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. He is a partner in several EEC stem cell consortia (FP6: Therapeuskin and EuroStemCell, FP7: EuroSyStem, OptiStem, BetaCellTherapy).

Current research targets the role of small microenvironmental variations on stem cell behavior, and exploring the potency of stem cells of stratified epithelia (skin, esophagus, ocular surface) and of thymic epithelial cells. The lab is also involved in understanding the factors that regulate stem cell engraftment to improve epithelial cell therapy. An important aspect of the research aims at setting up a pilot clinical trial to demonstrate the feasibility of ex vivo gene therapy to treat Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare but horrendous congenital disease of the skin that results in continuous blistering of the skin, chronic wounds, fusion of fingers and development of carcinoma.

Yann Barrandon was a member of the Faculty Council of the EPFL School of Life Sciences 2006-2008, of the Board of Swiss Stem Cell Network, 2004-2009, and is a member of the EPFL Ethics Committee since 2008. He is a reviewer for major scientific journals and for major granting agencies abroad. He is a member of the board of Directors of the International Society for Differentiation (ISD) and of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) and was a Member of the Board of Directors of the European Tissue Repair Society, 1990-1995. He was elected as EMBO member in 2009.

He has given over 300 invited conferences and seminars worldwide on the biology and the therapeutic use of cutaneous stem cells including:

Gordon Research Conferences, Tissue Repair and Regeneration, June 2005, New London, USA,

Keystone Symposia on Stem Cells, April 2006, Whistler, Canada

Keystone Symposia, Stem Cell Interactions with their Microenvironmental Niche, March 2007, Keystone, USA

Keystone Symposia, Stem Cell Niche Interactions, April 2009, Whistler, Canada

Gordon Research Conferences, Epithelial Stem Cells, June 2009, Les Diablerets, Switzerland

7th Meeting of the International Society Stem Cell Research, July 2009, Barcelona, Spain

16th International Society for Developmental Biologists, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, Sept 2009

Yann Barrandon has given multiple media interviews and participated to different reportages:

LCI, TF1, France 2, France 3, RSR (Radio Suisse Romande), TSR (Television Suisse Romande), and articles in newspapers: Figaro, La Croix, Le Temps, L’Hebdo, Le Nouvelliste, etc. He was also a participant in the movie “A Stem Cell Story”, EuroStemCell, Best TV/video production, Tromsø Science Media Festival; Best short film, Scinema (Australia); In competition, Science Film Festival (Bangkok), BaKaFORUM 2007, Vedere la Scienza

He organized the second EuroStemCell international conference “Advances in Stem Cell Research” supported by the EMBO and held in Lausanne 8-10 September 2006. He regularly participates as faculty to the EEC funded Stem Cell Summer School held in Hydra Greece since 2005.

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