Michel Werner completed PhD his thesis on the translational regulation of gene expression in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae at the University of Brussels under the supervision of André Piérard.

He then joined Pierre Thuriaux’s team at the Atomic Energy Commissariate (CEA) in Saclay as a post-doctoral fellow thanks to a grant from the European Commission, the precursor of the European Union. He first worked on transcription by RNA polymerase III, still in S. cerevisiae, using genetic, biochemical and molecular biology approaches. One of the characteristics of his work is that he was interested in protein-protein interactions in the complexes involved in transcription and its initiation. He has used genetic approaches to perturb these interactions and demonstrate their role in the establishment of transcription initiation complexes. . In the early 2000s, he extended his interests to the regulation of transcription by RNA polymerase II and the Mediator complex that allows preinitiation complex formation through the assembly of the enzyme and its general factors in response to activators. His work has led to an understanding of how the Mediator recruits general factors and RNA polymerase II to gene promoters.

Michel Werner has held research positions at CEA and CNRS as a staff scientist, then as a team leader, and held management responsibilities as a laboratory, service, department and institute head, successively. Since 2018, he is the director of the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris. He was president of the French Genetics Society and received the Doisteau-Blutet Prize from the Academy of Sciences.

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