Dr. Julien Muffat studied Bioengineering at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris-Saclay, and was as a visiting Fellow at Harvard Medical School studying the oxidative biochemistry of amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease. Muffat received his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at Caltech, where he studied genetic factors affecting brain resilience to environmental stressors and aging. During his postdoctoral training at MIT, Muffat developed the first methods to generate microglia from human stem cells, along with micro-physiological 3D cultures replicating the brain’s microenvironment to model neurological disorders. Recruited to SickKids and UofT in 2018 as Canada Research Chair in Synthetic Neuroimmunology and Stem Cell Bioengineering, Muffat is an MBD Investigator, and a pioneer in the use of tissue engineering to model non cell-autonomous aspects of neurological disorders. The Muffat lab is funded by CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, Brain Canada and the Stem Cell Network.
Precision Medicine Research in the Muffat lab helps develop individualized brain-in-a dish models of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis or Autism. From human stem cells, we use novel tissue engineering techniques (3D cultures, brain avatars), combined with molecular tools such as CRISPR, to study the role of immune cells in these disorders. An important effort in the lab focuses on the impact of viruses, to better understand the rare effects of common viral infections on the brain and mental health of specific children and adults.
Education and experience
- 2009–2017: NARSAD Young Investigator, Post-doctoral fellow, MIT, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, USA
- 2002–2009: Ph.D. in Neuroscience, CalTech, Pasadena, USA
- 1999–2001: DEA in Biology of Aging, University of Paris, France (Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School, USA)
- 1997–1999: Licence and Matrise in Bioengineering, Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris-Saclay
- 2021: Future Leader in Neuroscience Award, Brain Canada
- 2020: Jumpstart Award for Early Researchers, Stem Cell Network
- 2018: Canada Research Chair in Synthetic Neuroimmunology
- 2017: Investigator, Medicine by Design, CFREF
- 2016: Scholarship in 3D models of CNS disease, NINDS
- 2014: Young Investigator Award, NARSAD / BBR
- 2007: Della Martin Research Fellowship, Caltech
- 2003: Woods Hole MBL Scholarship, Ellison Medical Foundation
- 2003: Research Fellowship, Glenn Foundation for Aging
- 2000: International Action Award, ENS, France
- 1999: Study Abroad Fellowship, Region Rhone-Alpes, France
- Muffat J, Li Y, Yuan B, Mitalipova M, Omer A, Corcoran S, Bakiasi G, Tsai LH, Aubourg P, Ransohoff RM, Jaenisch R. Efficient derivation of microglia-like cells from human pluripotent stem cells. Nat Med. 2016 Nov;22(11):1358-1367. doi: 10.1038/nm.4189. Epub 2016 Sep 26. PubMed PMID: 27668937; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5101156.
- Trapecar M, Wogram E, Svoboda D, Communal C, Omer A, Lungjangwa T, Sphabmixay P, Velazquez J, Schneider K, Wright CW, Mildrum S, Hendricks A, Levine S, Muffat J, Lee MJ, Lauffenburger DA, Trumper D, Jaenisch R, Griffith LG. Human physiomimetic model integrating microphysiological systems of the gut, liver, and brain for studies of neurodegenerative diseases. Sci Adv. 2021 Jan;7(5). doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abd1707. Print 2021 Jan. PubMed PMID: 33514545; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7846169.
- Hirbec H, Déglon N, Foo LC, Goshen I, Grutzendler J, Hangen E, Kreisel T, Linck N, Muffat J, Regio S, Rion S, Escartin C. Emerging technologies to study glial cells. Glia. 2020 Sep;68(9):1692-1728. doi: 10.1002/glia.23780. Epub 2020 Jan 20. Review. PubMed PMID: 31958188.
- Tian A, Muffat J, Li Y. Studying Human Neurodevelopment and Diseases Using 3D Brain Organoids. J Neurosci. 2020 Feb 5;40(6):1186-1193. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0519-19.2019. Review. PubMed PMID: 32024767; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7002141.
- Li Y, Muffat J, Omer Javed A, Keys HR, Lungjangwa T, Bosch I, Khan M, Virgilio MC, Gehrke L, Sabatini DM, Jaenisch R. Genome-wide CRISPR screen for Zika virus resistance in human neural cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 May 7;116(19):9527-9532. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1900867116. Epub 2019 Apr 24. PubMed PMID: 31019072; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6510995.