Jean-Francois Poulin, PhD

Jean-Francois Poulin, PhD
Contact Information
Alternate phone: 
Email address: 
j-francois.poulin [at]

Jean-Francois Poulin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University who joined The Neuro in 2019. His research was fundamental in establishing the molecular diversity of dopamine neurons. Although these neurons represent less than 0.001% of the neuronal cells in the human brain, they are essential for the proper functioning of the brain.

Poulin’s lab studies how dopamine circuits are formed during development and how these circuits are affected in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. The lab’s research is based on the hypothesis that each dopamine neuron subtype is embedded within a defined neural circuit associated with unique properties and functions.

The lab’s goal is twofold:

1) To map the neuronal circuits of each dopamine neuron subtype in the developing and mature mouse brain. This is accomplished using both newly developed and prevailing approaches to map the connectivity matrices of neuron subtypes and to provide the molecular characterization of interconnected neurons.

2) To understand how these circuits are affected in transgenic models of diseases, initially focussing structural synaptic integrity, neuronal connectivity, and aberrant circuit activation in schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease models. They aim at restoring normal behaviors by manipulating key identified circuits using chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches.

This research will directly impact our understanding of the symptoms of the numerous human diseases that are directly caused by dysfunctional DA circuits.

Poulin's research is funded by Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL).

Selected publications: 

Chuhma N, Mingote S, Yetnikoff L, Kalmbach A, Ma T, Ztaou S, Sienna AC, Tepler S, Poulin JF, Ansorge M, Awatramani R, Kang UJ, Rayport S (2018). Dopamine neuron glutamate cotransmission evokes a delayed excitation in lateral dorsal striatal cholinergic interneurons. Elife, 7:e39786. DOI 10.7554/eLife.39786

Poulin JF, Caronia G, Hofer C, Cui Q, Helm B, Ramakrishnan C, Chan CS, Dombeck DA, Deisseroth K, Awatramani RB (2018). Mapping projections of molecularly defined dopamine neuron subtypes using intersectional genetic approaches. Nature Neuroscience, 21:1260–71. DOI 10.1038/s41593-018-0203-4

Cui Q, Pitt JE, Pamukcu A, Poulin JF, Mabrouk OS, Fiske MP, Fan IS, Augustine EC, Kelver D, Young KA, Kennedy RT, Awatramani RB, and Chan CS (2016) Blunted mGluR activation disinhibits striatopallidal transmission in parkinsonian mice. Cell reports, 17:2431-44. DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2016.10.087

Poulin JF, Tasic B, Hjerling-Leffler J, Trimarchi JM, Awatramani RB (2016) Disentangling neuronal diversity using single-cell transcriptomics. Nature Neuroscience, 19:1131-41. DOI: 10.1038/nn.4366

Anderegg A, Poulin JF, Awatramani RB (2015) Molecular heterogeneity of midbrain dopaminergic neurons - Moving toward single cell resolution. FEBS letter, 589: 3714-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.febslet.2015.10.022

Nouri N, Patel MJ, Joksimovic M, Poulin JF, Anderegg A, Taketo MM, Ma YC, Awatramani RB (2015) Excessive Wnt/beta-catenin signaling promotes midbrain floor plate neurogenesis, but results in vacillating dopamine progenitors. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 68:131-142. DOI: 10.1016/j.mcn.2015.07.002

Poulin JF, Zou J, Drouin-Ouellet J, Kwang-Youn KA, Cicchetti F, Awatramani RB (2014) Defining midbrain dopaminergic neuron diversity by single-cell gene profiling. Cell Reports, 9: 930-943. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.10.008

Research areas: 
Neural Circuits

The Neuro logo McGill logoMcGill University Health Centre logoKillam Laureates


The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



Facebook instagram x, formerly known as twitter linkedIn youtube

Back to top