Cécile Fortuny

PhD Student
Retinal Disease


France. Born in the center of France, I spend 3 years in Paris and 10 years in Alsace, where I studied at the university of Strasbourg .


I have a technical degree in Biotechnology that I completed with a Bachelor of Science in Cellular Molecular and Physiology from the University of Strasbourg and a Master in Pharmacology. I worked for almost 2 years in John Flannery lab at UC Berkeley, doing gene therapy for inherited eye diseases.I’ve been working in the International Study Center of Diabete. This institute combined physicians and researchers in the exploration of therapeutic alternatives to multiple daily injections of insulin. My project was to study the influence of a diabetic environment on a liver regeneration.I also joined the laboratory of “Biophonique et Pharmacologie” of the Faculty of Pharmacy as a research class project. We investigate the up and down-stream events involved in the activation of the p73-dependent pro-apoptotic pathway by focusing on the anti-apoptotic and epigenetic integrator UHRF1, essential for cell cycle progression.


I really wanted to pursue doing Cell and Molecular Biology research specifically in the eye . Berkeley has an amazing Vision Science Program and it’s really easy to interact with the faculty members, all well known in their field.


I really enjoy Translational research. I always wanted to be part of the design of innovative therapies for patients. Using Adeno-Associated Viruses (AAV), I am exploring the benefits and limits of using these viruses for gene therapy, and trying to cure blindness. I’ve been working on a combination therapy of a growth factor and an anti-apoptotic, AAV-mediated, for inherited retinal degeneration, in order to slow down the photoreceptor cell death due to unknown mutations. I am also trying to improve the efficiency of transduction into a particular cell type in the retina of AAVs, doing directed-evolution on its structure, in order to improve actually therapies.


My biggest hope is that one day my research will make it until clinical trials and end up helping patients. I wish that in 10 years, I will still be working on neurodegenerative diseases, and maybe doing more of brain research.


Discovering new things and traveling are a big passion. As a good french, I love cooking. I would like also to learn more languages, more precisely sign language too.


John Flannery Lab
112 Barker Hall
Berkeley, CA