Jean Martin Beaulieu
Dr Beaulieu received a PhD in Neurological Sciences from McGill University and completed his post-doctoral training at Duke University. Prior to his recruitment Dr. Beaulieu was associate professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier2) in the department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Laval University.
Dr. Beaulieu’s research is aimed at understanding how cellular and molecular mechanisms regulated by psychoactive drugs intersect with genetic risk factors for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Dr. Beaulieu has pioneered work establishing a role for Beta-arrestin signaling in the brain in vivo and has established its importance in D2 dopamine receptors (D2R) functions. These receptors belong to the super-family of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR), the major molecular target for drug development. In particular, D2R are the main pharmacological target of antipsychotic drugs prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Work by the Beaulieu Lab has demonstrated that mood stabilizer drugs (e.g. lithium) used for bipolar disorder therapy target signaling mechanisms regulated by dopamine receptors, thus providing a framework to understand how different drug classes can engage overlapping cellular mechanisms to exert their action. The Beaulieu group is presently investigating how cell surface express proteins can act as allosteric modulators of D2R signaling and explores the potential usefulness of beta-arrestins for the development of new pharmaceutical agents.
Translational validation is important to validate findings obtained from experimental models research and bridge the gap between bench and bedside. Working in collaboration with geneticists, the Beaulieu-Lab has identified interactions between cellular mechanisms engaged by D2R and psychiatric drugs with genetic risk factors implicated in schizophrenia by large whole genome association studies (GWAS) in human. These investigations have led to the identification of an RNA binding protein (FXR1P) involved in the regulation protein synthesis as a potential downstream effector of the action of mood stabilizers and other psychoactive drugs.
In addition to basic research, the Beaulieu group is also actively implicated in translational research and industry collaboration to develop new drugs and drug development technology.