[Comp-neuro] Postdoc on modeling the action potential of a swimming neuron

Romain Brette romain.brette at inserm.fr
Wed Sep 4 15:29:36 CEST 2019

A postdoc position is available in the group of Romain Brette in the 
Vision Institute, Paris, France, in collaboration with Alexis Prevost 
and Laetitia Pontani from Laboratoire Jean Perrin, to work on the 
development of a model of the action potential of Paramecium, a 
“swimming neuron”. More details here: 

Paramecium is a large unicellular eukaryote organism which swims in 
fresh water using its cilia. When it hits an obstacle, mechanosensitive 
channels open, depolarize the membrane and trigger a calcium-based 
action potential. In turn, the action potential triggers a reversal of 
the swimming direction, followed by a change of direction. This is 
called the “avoiding reaction”, and it is the basis of most Paramecium 
behavior. The goal of the global project is to develop an integrative 
model of Paramecium, that includes: sensory transduction, excitability 
and motility. In other words, a model of the behaving Paramecium in an 

The specific project for this postdoc is to develop a Hodgkin-Huxley 
type model of the action potential of Paramecium, together with a 
phenomenological model of electro-motor coupling, that is, the relation 
between membrane potential and cilia beating. Technically, the work will 
involve performing appropriate electrophysiological measurements and 
then developing and fitting models.

The funding is for 12 months (possibly more depending on grant results). 
Although this may seem short, the project is already well advanced, as 
we have developed simple reliable ways to do electrophysiological 
recordings on Paramecium and already collected a number of recordings.

Prior experience in electrophysiological recording is not a requirement 
as it can be learned. Be aware, however, that the work does involve a 
fair amount of experimental work (but on a model organism that is simple 
to handle). Conversely, we are also welcoming applications from 
electrophysiologists with little experience in modeling.

To apply, please send a CV and emails of two references to 
romain.brette at inserm.fr <mailto:romain.brette at inserm.fr>. Do not 
hesitate to ask for more information. Applications will be considered 
until the position is filled.

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