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Christine Petit

Christine Petit is Professor “Class Exceptionnelle” at Institut Pasteur in Paris, Head of Auditory Therapies Innovation Lab at the Hearing Institute (an Institut Pasteur Center), Head of Inserm (the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) UMRS UA06, and Professor Emeritus at Collège de France, Chair of Genetics and Cellular Physiology. She holds a Master of Sciences from University of Paris XI, a Doctorate in Medicine from University of Paris VI, and a Doctorate in Natural Sciences and Biochemistry from University of Paris VII.

Christine Petit has made landmark contributions to our understanding of the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying hearing and hearing loss. By studying geographically isolated consanguineous families with a history of profound deafness—an innovative approach at that time—Petit mapped the first two genes involved in childhood autosomal recessive deafness (DFNB1 and DFNB2). She went on to identify more than 20 genes that cause hearing impairment. Using mouse models of human deafness, she developed in her lab, Petit then conducted a series of groundbreaking multidisciplinary studies in which she demonstrated how various genes, the proteins they encode, and their complexes affect the neurodevelopmental and neurophysiological processes involved in hearing. Petit’s work has had enormous clinical implications. It has unveiled the enormous genetic heterogeneity of early onset forms of deafness, transformed the diagnosis of hereditary deafness, elicited the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of numerous of them and with her colleagues, is developing promising gene therapies for both congenital and late-forming types of hearing loss.

Christine Petit has been bestowed with numerous honors and awards during her career, including membership in the French Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europae, and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters. She was awarded the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience in 2018 and the Gruber Neuroscience Prize in 2021. She is also a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.