Associate Professor David Dupret
Programme Leader, MRC Brain Network Dynamics Group
When did you first get interested in the brain?
I must confess that this question made my smile at first: isn’t it asking my brain when it got interested in itself? Giving an unbiased answer seems complicated. I was formally trained as a teacher in Biological and Earth Sciences, educated to discuss a variety of topics about nature, ranging from DNA transposons to planet orbital courses. This was lots of fun but I realised in the first years of teaching that I knew nothing about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of scientific investigations, having never experienced the world of research myself. I also had very little idea about how the brain learns. I thus decided to a PhD in Neuroscience (while teaching). I had such a great time working in a laboratory to study the brain that I thought going for a research experience abroad would be a nice follow up. The French Ministry of Education allowed me to work for 10 months as a post-doc in the MRC ANU and, as these things go in Oxford, one project led to another and this is me still here! So, to answer the question, I guess it was when (and because) I had to teach!
Who has inspired you during your career?
Definitely a lot of people, past and present, for both research and teaching. For instance, I have always been impressed by the determination and commitment of Marie Curie to engage with scientific work as a way to satisfy curiosity and express freedom. I was also influenced by the history of Claude Bernard and his lessons as a fantastic example of verbal transmission of thoughts and knowledge. I am daily inspired by many people; my wife, my team members, my mentors.
What has been the most important paper in your area in the last 12 months?
I cannot cite just one of such recent papers. I think the most important papers are those opening new niches and avenues for many to follow. I guess only history will tell us which papers were really important.
What is the next exciting breakthrough in your field going to be?
Probably the identification of the circuit-level implementation of algorithms that allow distributed neuronal populations to cooperate in a flexible manner without compromising stability.
What do you do outside the lab?
All the spare time I have outside the lab goes to my family. We play, hike, cook, debate and travel.
What’s your favourite film/book/music?
Too many of these. My favourite book is probably To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. At the moment I am listening the work of Ludovico Einaudi.