Dr. Roman Chrast received his PhD in 2000 from the University of Geneva, Switzerland where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. S.E. Antonarakis on the molecular characterization of trisomy 21. He did his postdoctoral work at the Salk Institute, California, USA in the laboratory of Dr. G. Lemke, concentrating on the transcriptional characterization of myelinating glial cells. In 2005, he became a Swiss National Science Foundation professor in a newly established Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland where he started working on Charcot-Marie-Tooth diseases. In 2014 he was selected for the Swedish Strategic Research Area Neuroscience (StratNeuro) program award and became senior researcher at the Department of Neuroscience and Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Roman’s laboratory is using two parallel and complementary strategies to understand and potentially prevent disease-induced changes leading to peripheral neuropathies. The first approach is based on genetics. This work is done in close collaboration with clinicians and aims at the identification of genes that are mutated in various forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Once the mutated gene is identified, a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches are used in order to establish a model of the disease that will help to uncover the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. The second strategy is based on a detailed characterization of the key mechanisms involved in the biology of glial and neuronal cells with a particular accent on the mechanisms implicated in metabolic interactions between these two cellular partners. The insights gained through this characterization are important not only for the understanding of the biology of neurons and glia, but also to help discover new therapeutical targets that can be explored in a larger context of neurodegenerative diseases.