Giacomo Cavalli

Current position


Host institution

Institute of Human Genetics, Montpellier, CNRS, France

Epigenetics and developmental regulation


We are more than the sequence of our DNA. The Cavalli lab has contributed significantly to this simple but fundamental achievement of five decades of research following the description of the DNA double helix. Indeed, in addition to inheritance of characters depending strictly on the DNA sequence, there is another form of heritability, called “epigenetic inheritance”. This inheritance involves protein and RNA components that, by interacting with DNA molecules folded in the cell nucleus to form chromosomes, can produce alternative functions and maintain them through cell division into subsequent generations.


Giacomo Cavalli has a long-standing interest in the regulation of epigenetic inheritance. His lab is studying the role of the 3D organization of our genome, with a specific focus on the role of two groups of epigenetic components called Polycomb and Trithorax proteins. They define cell identity via the regulation of many other critical developmental genes. Polycomb and Trithorax factors maintain, respectively, repressed and active transcriptional states of their targets by binding to regulatory DNA regions and modulating the chromatin surrounding them.

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• 1991 - 1994, PhD, ETH Zürich, Fritz Thoma lab, chromatin and transcription

• 1995-1998 Postdoc at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Renato Paro’s Lab, Drosophila epigenetics


• 2008 - Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences. Full description : "Académie des Sciences – Institut de France : Grand prix quadriennal Paul Doisteau - Émile Blutet"

• 2008 - Election to EMBO Member

• 2009 - Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

• 2011 - Silver Medal of the CNRS

• 2012 - Allianz Foundation Research Prize, Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences

• 2013 - Prize « Equipe à l’Honneur de Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC) »

• 2017 – Second Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).

• 2020 – Nominated chair of the LS2 Coordinator Grant panel of the ERC

• 2020 – Grand Prix of the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale