Vice President, Research

Pierre Magistretti

  • Mission and Vision
  • Biography
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Research Interests

The Office of the Vice President for Research oversees activities pertaining to two of the central pillars of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology by fostering excellence in research while contributing to the economic development of Saudi Arabia.

The office develops strategies, initiates and oversees research programs, manages space and resources, and establishes policies to support both fundamental and goal-oriented interdisciplinary research bridging science and engineering. Interdisciplinary and collaborative research for societal benefit is the Office's primary strategic focus.

Pierre J. Magistretti, received his MD in 1979 from the University of Geneva and his Ph.D. in Biology in 1982 from UCSD. He is Distinguished Professor at the Division at Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering at KAUST where he has been Dean from 2012 to 2020.

He is also Professor Emeritus at the Brain Mind Institute at EPFL and at the Departments of Psychiatry at UNIL/CHUV and UNIGE. Since January 2020 he is the Director of KAUST Smart-Health Initiative.

Pierre J. Magistretti’s laboratory has discovered some of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the coupling between neuronal activity and energy consumption by revealing the key role that glial cells, in particular astrocytes, play in this physiological process. These findings are particularly relevant for understanding the origin of the signals detected by functional brain imaging, and are revealing a role of astrocytes in neuronal plasticity and neuroprotection.

He is the author of over 250 publications in international peer-reviewed journals; he is on the Clarivate list of highly cited scientists, with an h-index of 103 and > 45’000 citations (8/2021).  He has given over 70 invited lectures during the past five years.  He has recently been elected Foreign Member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, one of the oldest science academies of the Western world, founded in 1603. He has been elected at the International Chair 2007-2008 of the Collège de France, Paris. He is member of Academia Europae and of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.

Among other recognitions, Pierre Magistretti has been awarded the Camillo Golgi Medal Award, the Emil Kraepelin Professorship, the Goethe Award of the Canadian Psychological Association and the Ott Prize of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences. In 2016, he shared with David Attwell and Marcus Raichle the IPSEN Foundation Prize. Pierre Magistretti is an honorary member of the Chinese Association of Physiological Sciences. He is the Past-President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and Past‐President of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO). He has been on the Board of Trustees of the Human Fontiers Science Program Organization from 2003 to 2020 and a Fellow of the American College of Psychopharmacology. He is and has been member of several academic scientific advisory boards including the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation. He is the Vice-Chairman of the European Dana Alliance  for the Brain (EDAB) since 2002 and is member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) and in this capacity he is strongly engaged in the public understanding of neuroscience. He is the co-founder of two start-up companies based on his research, LynceeTech and GliaPharm.

Education Profile
  • ​​​​​​​Ph.D., Biology, University of California, San Diego, U.S., 1982
  • M.D. Doctorate en Médecine, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 1979
  • Diplôme Fédéral de Médecin, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 1977
  • Educational Commision for Foreign Medical Graduates Examination, 1977
  • Maturité Fédérale Type A (Classical Studies), 1977

Selected Publications
  • Cotte Y, Toy F, Jourdain P, Pavillon N, Boss D, Magistretti P, Marquet P, Depeursinge C (2013) Marker-free phase nanoscopy. Nature Photonics 7:113-117.
  • Lee Y, Morrison BM, Li Y, Lengacher S, Farah MH, Hoffman PN, Liu YT, Tsingalia A, Jin L, Zhang PW, Pellerin L, Magistretti PJ, Rothstein JD. (2012) Oligodendroglia metabolically support axons and contribute to neurodegeneration. Nature 487:443-U1502.
  • Suzuki A, Stern SA, Bozdagi O, Huntley GW, Walker RH, Magistretti PJ, Alberini CM. (2011) Astrocyte - neuron lactate transport is required for long-term memory formation. Cell 144:810-823.
  • Wyss MT, Jolivet R, Buck A, Magistretti PJ, Weber B (2011) In vivo evidence for lactate as a neuronal energy source. Journal of Neuroscience 31:7477-7485.
  • Allaman I, Gavillet M, Bélanger M, Laroche T, Viertl T, Lashuel HA, Magistretti PJ (2010) Amyloid beta-aggregates cause alterations of astrocytic metabolic phenotype: Impact on neuronal viability. Journal of Neuroscience 30:3326-3338.
  • Pellerin, L, Magistretti PJ (1994) Glutamate uptake into astrocytes stimulates aerobic glycolysis: A mechanism coupling neuronal activity to glucose utilization. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 91:10625-10629.

Professor Magistretti has made significant contributions in the field of brain energy metabolism. His group has discovered some of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the coupling between neuronal activity and energy consumption by the brain. This work has considerable ramifications for the understanding of the origin of the signals detected with the current functional brain imaging techniques used in neurologic and psychiatric research.

Magistretti’s research interests include the cellular and molecular bases of brain energy metabolism and brain imaging and the behavioral, cellular and molecular determinants of neuronal and glial plasticity.