Dr Desplan was trained at the Ecole Normale Superieure in St Cloud, France where he obtained the ‘agregation’ in 1975. He did his PhD in Paris at the INSERM with Drs. Moukhtar and Thomasset on Calcium regulation before joining Pat O’Farrell’s lab at UCSF. This is where he initiated his studies of the homeodomain and demonstrated that this conserved signature of many developmental genes was a DNA binding motif. In 1987, he joined the Faculty of Rockefeller University and was a Howard Hughes investigator. He pursued structural studies of the homeodomain and initiated his work on the evolution of axis formation in insects. In 1997, he embarked into the investigation of color vision in Drosophila that occupies most of his current laboratory. He moved as a professor to New York University in 1999. His team has described the molecular mechanisms of patterning of the fly retina that underlies color vision. He is now studying processing of color vision with an investigation of the functional anatomy of the medulla part of the optic lobe. In parallel, his lab developed the wasp Nasonia as a model system to compare early developmental events in the embryo (Evo-Devo). He contributed extensively to the understanding of how insect embryos pattern their antero-posterior axis through the utilization of many of the same genes that are used in Drosophila with significant changes in the network, in particular through mRNA localization.
Biography Updated on 4 September 2012