With Adiós Corona, neuroscientist Claire Wyart fights against “fake news” on the Covid

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Posted on Jan 26, 2021 at 6:00 PMUpdated Jan 28, 2021, 11:02 AM

“In the cacophony of spring”, Claire Wyart has embarked on an ambitious project at home alongside her own research, as if she didn't already have a lot to do. She co-founded Adiós Corona, a very educational site, intended for the general public, which aims to fight against “fake news” on the coronavirus and to inform about the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Dozens of researchers around the world contribute voluntarily to enrich the site regularly, translated into 11 languages. The latest updated questions: “What do we know about the British variant?” “; “Do variants call into question the effectiveness of vaccines? “”Or again:” My friends and family are people I trust, do I take risks if I meet them during the pandemic? “…

Here is the level of energy that Claire Wyart is able to mobilize for her profession, in the midst of a pandemic, always motivated by the desire to have fun in your research ” and of “Train the next generation”. Character traits inherited from his mother, who managed to combine a scientific career and the education of six children. A ” strong woman “, to whom she dedicates a “Immense admiration”.

Daughter of the Nobel Prize in physics Pierre-Gilles de Gennes and the theoretical physicist Françoise Brochard-Wyart, she began by obtaining a doctorate at the University of Strasbourg. Then it was in the United States, in Berkeley, that his career took off. Back in London in 2010 with her American partner, she joined the Brain Institute (ICM).

Sexist behaviors

Selected from among many international candidates, she headed up a research team at the age of thirty-three. “It was not common to see a woman leader in neuroscience at this age”, she says, remembering sexist and infantilizing behavior. She tells : “At my first seminar, a professor said, with his back to me and as I spoke, ‘What do you do with a fish cell?' I told myself that I was going to prove that my research was important to understand how all vertebrates work! “

Since then, Claire Wyart, who has become research director at Inserm, has demonstrated, with her team of 12 people, that the mechanisms discovered in zebrafish are also found in mice and macaques. Studies in humans are ongoing. “”Use criticism to my advantage and bounce back from obstacles”, this is a leitmotif that pays off.

The forty-three-year-old scientist has obtained numerous international funding, including, last month, 2 million Pounds from the European Research Council. Enough to comfortably pursue his studies on the spinal cord and movement control, with the horizon of advances in the management of scoliosis, kyphosis and meningitis.

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