Mercier’s dream of becoming a researcher started in early high school. His love for science was not a family affair, as it is for many researchers, because he was the child of farmers.He was born and raised in the administrative department of Maine-and-Loire.He comments with a smile, “Although those in the lab will be the first to see the results, I don’t mind being second because I get to hear about a team’s worth of discoveries.” His research team is composed of around 10 people—technicians, engineers, and students—who love talking about their work.
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It is because INRA offers excellent resources for those carrying out basic research that the institute can snare scientists like Mercier, whose discoveries can result in key applications, sometimes in entirely unexpected ways.
Mercier’s research provides a perfect example of the axiom “there can be no applied research without basic research.” One question continues to haunt Raphaël Mercier: what controls the number of crossing-over events (1) that take place during meiosis?
First, he would like to identify new, relevant genes and understand how they are organized in networks. Second, as they are being repaired, fragments are swapped.
Then, it might be possible to develop a mechanistic model describing this crucial cell division process.(1) Crossing-over occurs when DNA fragments are exchanged by homologous chromosomes during the first meiotic division. During a given meiotic cycle for a given chromosome, the DNA strand is broken at a minimum of 250 locations. However, on average, two result in crossing-over events.
It is a crucial step in the lives of organisms that reproduce sexually.
In humans, errors during meiosis are responsible for Down syndrome and explain 40% of miscarriages.“The genes involved in meiosis are remarkably well conserved among organisms as different as yeasts, plants, mice, and humans.
Read the article- Raphaël Mercier awarded European Research Council Starting Grant in 2011.