Neurobiology of olfaction

21065 DIJON

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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.

The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities


The INRAE human nutrition and food safety (ALIMH) division wishes to address the challenge of making it possible to adopt eating behaviour beneficial to human health and the planet. To achieve this, a major hurdle to be overcome is the characterisation and understanding of how the qualities of food are perceived and influence behaviour. This recruitment aims to reinforce the disciplinary skills in neurobiology of olfaction in the context of eating behaviour, discipline which has become overburdened on site.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté University (UBFC), of which Bourgogne University (UB) is a member, leads the research strategy for the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté ESR (Higher Education and Research site) for which INRAE is a major player. The strategy is being developed around societal and environmental challenges through 3 themes. Within the theme 'Territories, environment and food', the study of the sensory perception of food has become an area of excellence of the site. By joining the Graduate School TRANSBIO of the SFRI UBFC InteGrate project, as well as the FORTHEM Alliance, this project will also consolidate the teaching policy on the site. The Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation (CSGA) Joint Research Unit merges complementary skills in the target fields, as well as tools and infrastructures figuring in the national road map (ChemoSens platform). The creation of a Junior Professor position is in line with the ‘objectives and resources’ agreement that INRAE has undertaken to sign with UBFC. 

The CSGA Joint Research Unit develops research aimed at understanding the underlying physicochemical, biological, and psychological mechanisms of sensory perception and eating behaviour throughout life. The studies conducted in physiological (development, experience, aging) or pathophysiological conditions (dietary imbalance, cognitive disorders) range from the release of molecules from food to consumer behaviour, as well as the biological mechanisms that form the basis of sensory perception. A major lever to understand the perception of food is to study how the olfactive system is able to perceive the myriad of odorous compounds and understand the impact of the environment on their perception. The work by the CSGA on this research theme is recognised at national and international level and is supported by the INRAE Human nutrition and food safety division. However, a projection of human resources (researchers) by 2026 based on current levels shows a significant weakening in strategic expertise for the CSGA, affecting more particularly neuroscience coupled with olfaction. This project will, therefore, help maintain and above all consolidate the scientific leadership of the CSGA joint research unit in this core emblematic area.

Nature and purpose of the research project to be developed and related activities

Most of the sensory modalities are the subject of studies aiming to understand how the nervous system detects the physical or chemical stimuli, transforms them into neural activity, and processes this information to extract higher-level information as well as to combine the information from different sensory modalities to create multimodal representations.

The junior professor will address the study of the neurobiology of olfaction and the effect of the environment (internal metabolic signals and food) on olfactive perception in relation to eating behaviour in conjunction with the other modalities studied within the CSGA, including gustation. One of the major challenges of this project will be to understand the molecular and physiological mechanisms of the perception of odorous compounds in humans. The project will consider questions regarding neural plasticity linked to the olfactive and nutritional environment in conjunction with the question of specific populations (infant, child, and aging), including diseased populations (anorexia, obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases). To undertake this project, you will establish translational and multidisciplinary approaches (neurobiology, behavioural science).

Nature and purpose of the teaching project

The teaching project comes under two of the four areas (food systems and the sustainable use of resources; innovation and remediation of socio-ecosystems in the context of global change) of the Graduate School TRANSBIO of the SFRI UBFC InteGrate, which groups the doctoral schools and Master's degrees including an international Master's supported by ISITE-BFC (P2FOOD).

Your teaching (28 hours of lectures or 42 hours of tutorials/practicals) will be part of this ecosystem and you will source students from the SCM Master’s (Cell and molecular signalling, option ‘Neurosignalling’), P2FOOD Master's (approved by ISITE) of Bourgogne University and the European alliance FORTHEM. The specialist courses in neuroscience are led by Professors from Bourgogne University attached to the CSGA Joint Research Unit. You will also benefit from the environment offered by the Institut Agro Dijon Master's degree (specialisation ‘Nutrisensas’). You will supervise doctoral students at the E2S (Environment and Health) doctoral school and present your HDR at this same doctoral school if you do not already hold this diploma.

Funding and related resources

ANR ackage  : 200 000€

Funding Bourgogne Franche-Comté Region  :  40 000€

Co-funding INRAE  : 176 400€

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

You must:

- have a PhD or foreign university degree judged equivalent
-have experience in the field of neurobiology of olfaction
-be motivated, have scientific and educational management skills
-propose pertinent methods with regard to the hurdles identified
-propose a research project with structuring effects within the laboratory and in keeping with the policy of the site
-be able to integrate research networks, in particular European
-be able to manage a team and find complementary resources to fund the project.
Post-doctoral experience, preferably abroad, of at least 3 years is desired

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

- 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
- parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: training, career advise;
- social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
- holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

Type of contract

Tenure-Track Junior Professor Chair is a new career route at INRAE. It enables the recruitment of scientists based on a research and teaching project that lasts three years. At the end of this period, and following an assessment of your scientific achievements and professional capabilities, you may obtain a full-tenure position as Research Director (DR2).

A research and teaching agreement will specify the path you will follow towards full-tenure and enable you to acquire the qualifications necessary to become a full-tenure Research Director in your field.

You have until June 14, 2022 to submit your application. Only candidates previously selected on file by the selection committee will be invited to the hearing.

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CPJ22-ALIMH-1
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: /


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