Claude-Agnès Reynaud and Jean-Claude Weill got a PhD in molecular biology at the Institute Jacques Monod (Paris) in the team of K. Scherrer in 1981 and 1980. They then studied the generation of the antibody repertoire using the chicken model and discovered gene conversion as a generator of antibody diversity. They moved to the Basel Institute in 1987 where they further develop repertoire studies in the sheep model. In 1991, JCW was appointed Professor of Immunology at the Necker hospital, and CAR Director of Research at CNRS and started to study the development of the B cell compartment in mice and humans. Since 2010, JCW is Professor Emeritus.
Awards : CAR got the Silver Medal from CNRS (1991) and JCW is a member of the French Academy of Sciences (2011). They are both EMBO members and received an ERC Advanced grant, in 2010 and 2016, respectively
Understanding the functional diversity of B cell memory and effector subsets during immune responses in both mice and humans, as well as in human autoimmune diseases mediated by pathogenic antibodies.
Most vaccines are based on antibodies and thus on the B cell arm of the immune system, but one still does not have a clear picture of the cellular and molecular basis of B cell memory. We have recently proposed, using a fate mapping mouse model, the concept of “multi-layered B cell memory response”, which implies that there are different memory B cell subsets with different effector functions engaged in a recall response. Nevertheless, the behavior of each B cell memory subset seems to vary depending on the model studied, i.e. on factors such as the type of antigen and adjuvant used and the timing of successive immune challenges. As an additional complexity, the human memory B cell compartment appears very different from the one of rodents in term of subsets and phenotypes. Improved vaccination strategies will therefore depend on a better understanding of what are the B cell subsets involved during responses against induced (vaccines) or natural (infection) antigenic challenges. Our project aims at addressing several of these questions and is developed along five axes.