Header Logo

Claire Benard PhD

TitleAdjunct Associate Professor
InstitutionUMass Chan Medical School
AddressUMass Chan Medical School
364 Plantation Street LRB 721
Worcester MA 01605
vCardDownload vCard
    Other Positions
    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine

    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    McGill University, Montreal, QC, CanadaBSBiology
    McGill University, Montreal, QC, CanadaPHDBiology

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview

    Molecular mechanisms of nervous system maintenance and protection

    The long-term goal of our research is to identify mechanisms that keep the nervous system functioning throughout life and protect it from aging and neurodegenerative disorders. Neuronal structures established early in development need to persist throughout life for proper brain function. Yet physical stresses are exerted on the nervous system by body movements, increase in body size, and injury. Importantly, aging precipitates dramatic alterations in the physiology of all organisms, compromising cellular function, reducing resistance to stress, and increasing the likelihood of developing age-related diseases. Characteristic conditions are late-onset neurodegenerative disorders and cognitive decline. Remarkably, while physical stress and age are known to be strong determinants of these conditions, the molecular mechanisms leading to natural age-related and lesion-related neural deterioration are virtually unknown.

    In the lab we take a multidisciplinary approach that includes genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry and confocal microscopy to elucidate the mechanisms that protect the architecture and function of the nervous system throughout life. We use the powerful model organism C. elegans, which has a strong track record of contributions to the fields of nervous system development and function, and of aging, to tease apart the molecular mechanisms underlying normal age-dependent brain decline and neuropathological conditions manifested during senescence and traumatic brain injury. Through our research, we have identified several proteins with roles dedicated to long-term neural protection, including a member of the conserved L1CAM family, SAX-7. Given that the development and function of the C. elegans nervous system has a high degree of evolutionary conservation with the mammalian brain, we expect that our research will ultimately provide crucial information to ameliorate the consequences of age-related cognitive decline, neurodegenerative diseases, and brain lesions.


    Claire Bénard received her Ph.D. (2003) from McGill University, Canada, supported by scholarships from NSERC and FCAR. She obtained postdoctoral fellowships from NSERC and CIHR for her training at Columbia University. She joined the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2009. Her lab is funded by the NIH and The Ellison Biomedical Foundation.

    UMASS News     http://www.umassmed.edu/news/research/2011/study_on_aging.aspx

    Podcast about our research recorded at the Boston Museum of Science in 2010:  http://www.mos.org/events_activities/podcasts&d=4484

    Collapse Rotation Projects

    Rotation Projects

    The Bénard lab studies how the nervous system is protected throughout the life of an animal. Neuronal structures established early in development need to persist throughout adulthood for proper brain function. We use the nematode C. elegans as a model system to elucidate the cellular and molecular bases of maintenance of neuronal architecture. Some neurodegenerative diseases for which the causes are unknown may result from postdevelopmental failures in these maintenance mechanisms.

    Rotation projects include the study of the genetic and biochemical interactions between maintenance factors that we have identified in the lab. Students will get training in genetics, molecular genetics and biochemical approaches and will use a range of molecular biology, cell culture, microscopy and genetic techniques. Contact Dr. Bénard to discuss specific interests and projects.

    Collapse Post Docs

    A postdoctoral position is available to train in this laboratory. Contact Dr. Bénard for additional details.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
    Newest   |   Oldest   |   Most Cited   |   Most Discussed   |   Timeline   |   Field Summary   |   Plain Text
    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. B?nard CY, Blanchette C, Recio J, Hobert O. The secreted immunoglobulin domain proteins ZIG-5 and ZIG-8 cooperate with L1CAM/SAX-7 to maintain nervous system integrity. PLoS Genet. 2012; 8(7):e1002819. PMID: 22829780.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    2. B?nard C, Tjoe N, Boulin T, Recio J, Hobert O. The small, secreted immunoglobulin protein ZIG-3 maintains axon position in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics. 2009 Nov; 183(3):917-27. PMID: 19737747.
      Citations: 15     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    3. Seitan VC, Banks P, Laval S, Majid NA, Dorsett D, Rana A, Smith J, Bateman A, Krpic S, Hostert A, Rollins RA, Erdjument-Bromage H, Tempst P, Benard CY, Hekimi S, Newbury SF, Strachan T. Metazoan Scc4 homologs link sister chromatid cohesion to cell and axon migration guidance. PLoS Biol. 2006 Jul; 4(8):e242. PMID: 16802858.
      Citations: 55     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    4. Burgess J, Hihi AK, Benard CY, Branicky R, Hekimi S. Molecular mechanism of maternal rescue in the clk-1 mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans. J Biol Chem. 2003 Dec 05; 278(49):49555-62. PMID: 14517217.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    Benard's Networks
    Click the
    buttons for more information and interactive visualizations!
    Concepts (46)
    Similar People (60)
    Same Department Expand Description
    Physical Neighbors