Christine PETIT graduated in medicine (M.D. from Pierre et Marie Curie University - Paris VI) and in basic biological sciences, genetics and biochemistry, at Orsay University (Paris XI). She received her Ph.D at Institut Pasteur. During her research training, she studied microbial genetics with Gunnar Lindhal and François Jacob, cell genetics, human genetics with Jean Weissenbach and Pierre Tiollais, and immunology.
In 2002, she was appointed Professor at College de France where she holds the chair of “Genetics and Cellular Physiology”. She is currently the head of the “Genetics and Physiology of Hearing laboratory” (Inserm Unit UMRS 1120) at Institut Pasteur.
Through her work on the structure of the human genome, Christine Petit elucidated the origin of sex inversion in humans, which results in XX males and XY females. She then focused on the sensory systems and attempted to understand the hereditary defects of olfaction and subsequently hearing (and vision, to a lesser extent). After identifying the first gene responsible for a total absence of smell in humans (the X-linked gene responsible for Kallmann syndrome), she developed experimental conditions for the study of hereditary deafness. This approach led to the identification of a large number of deafness-causing genes, most of which are implicated in early forms of deafness. She then elucidated the underlying mechanisms associated with these genes, and classified them into a number of physiopathological categories. She developed an interdisciplinary approach to decipher various aspects of the cellular and molecular basis of acoustic signal processing by the auditory system.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
The Brain Prize -Grete Lundbeck Foundation, Europe (2012)
Pasarow Medical Research Award “Neuropsychiatry”, USA, 2011
Grand Prix INSERM de la recherche médicale, 2007
Louis-Jeantet for Medicine Prize-Europe, 2006
Bristol-Myers-Squibb “Freedom to Discover” Award in Neuroscience, 2005
Institute for Health Sciences “Research and Medicine” Award, 2004
L’Oreal-UNESCO: “For Women in Science” Award-Europe, 2004
Ernst Jung Preis für Wissenschaft und Forschung: Medizin, Germany, 2001
French Academy of Sciences: Charles-Leopold Mayer Award, 1999
Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, 2011
Officier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur, 2014