Élise Herardot: Create a Retina in a Laboratory and Repair Sight

Elise Herardot

PhD student in immunology at the stem cell centre (CECSI/I-Stem, UEVE), Élise Herardot is exploring "the reconstitution of a retina using bioengineering based on human pluripotent stem cells to treat vision-impairing diseases".

Tell us about your thesis subject and your research work.

I work on age-related and genetic diseases that affect the human retina.  Our goal is to recreate a healthy retina to replace a deteriorating retina. It is called cell therapy. I use non-differentiated stem cells to find the recipe to create photoreceptors - cells that respond to light. I then assemble them with other retina cells to form a patch that will evolve into a complete retina.

What is your academic background? What motivated you to do your thesis?

After an undergraduate degree in La Rochelle, I completed a Master's programme in biochemistry in Sweden. I then passed the examination to participate in PhD studies and began my PhD.

I wanted my thesis subject to be in the medical field with medical applications. I found this subject very interesting because it has concrete applications. Applied research suits me. What’s more, I am working with a strong team in an excellent laboratory.

Why did you decide to participate in the My Thesis in 180 Seconds competition?

I decided to take part in the competition because it was a good opportunity to talk about a subject that is important to me.

What do you intend to do when you finish your thesis?

My plan is to pursue a postdoctoral programme, either in France or abroad. I want to continue with research and medical applications. I would like to pursue my work on stem cells. My goal is to research either in the public or private sector. That will depend on opportunities that arise.