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Timothee Lionnet

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During my PhD in the group of Vincent Croquette (Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris), I designed and built a highly sensitive single-molecule magnetic tweezers microscope. This system allowed me to discover that the DNA double helix stretches when overwound, a counterintuitive property bearing profound consequences for DNA sequence recognition. I also uncovered new principles driving the mechanochemistry of DNA helicases. I then joined the laboratory of Robert H. Singer (A. Einstein College of Medicine, New York) in order to continue developing single molecule technologies, this time inside cells and animals. These include a mouse line in which individual mRNA molecules of an endogenous gene can be detected by fluorescence, as well as a biosensor reporting on the translational state of single mRNAs in live cells and animals. Using these technologies, I was able to discover fundamental principles in various biological systems, from the “clueless gene” model in yeast, to the spatiotemporal regulation of the influenza virus genome assembly.

I am now the Project Scientist for the Transcription Imaging Consortium (TIC) at the H.H.M.I. Janelia Research Campus. In this position, I lead a Janelia-based research group that develops innovative fluorescence technologies to understand the rules that govern transcription at the single molecule level. We engineer tools that range from novel microscopes, fluorescent reagents and labeling techniques, to image analysis and visualization software. With assistance from other Steering Committee members, I also drive the global effort of the Consortium. Our mission is to accelerate our understanding of transcription through collaborative work and free flow of of tools, technologies, people and ideas between participating labs. The Consortium currently consists of ten core laboratories worldwide, plus ten partner labs.