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“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the persons who have contributed in many ways to this work.

I would like to thank first my supervisor, Professor Massimo Pandolfo, for giving me the opportunity to start and be part of this very “new and exciting” project.

Massimo, your advice, your enthusiasm and your optimism motivated me to carry on, especially through some difficult times. Thanks for all the talented and rich brainstorming, which guided me as a young scientist during the past years.

Thanks for introducing me to the international FRDA community from the beginning. Finally thanks for “polishing” my writings!

I am indebted to my colleagues in the laboratory, for their help, kindness and presence.

A first thanks goes to my first two colleagues: Auli and Reiska, now back in Finland. You taught me a lot and you guided me. Thanks for sharing the valuable knowledge in science and in life!

Thanks especially to Isabelle Mi, for a very pleasant Friedreich collaboration, thanks especially to Satyan for a great lab and team “building”.

Thanks to all the others who are still around or who pursued research elsewhere:

Ajay, Aloys, Ana, Camille, Carole, Chantal, Daniele, Elodie, Lyne, Isabelle Ma., Marie-Aline, Mario, Nathalie, Neslihan, Shérine.

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My gratitude goes to Professor Joel Gottesfeld, for the pleasant collaboration we had during those years. Thanks to Liz from his lab who contributed in many ways to this project, starting with ChIP experiments, and ending hanging out after long days of meetings abroad.

Thank you to Dr James Rusche and his team at Repligen, especially those who were in close contact for this project: Heather, Andy, Glenn, and Steve. Thanks for all the time spent on the phone, thanks for your patience waiting for adequate groups of KIKI mice.

Thank you to Professor Dan Geschwind for bringing some insight into the complexities of microarrays. Thanks Giovanni for developing and executing these studies in the most perfect manner!

Thank you to Nick who helped to collect blood from patients for the study.

Again, Ana and Elodie, thanks for your excellent collaborative help with the animals.

Three wonderful women helped me without realizing, firstly by their friendship and “maternal” attitude and secondly by organizing paper work and events.

Hanne, Michèle, Sabrina, thank you.

I am indebted to many other colleagues at the Neurophysiology laboratory who have helped to make these six years at the third floor an unforgettable experience.

Finally in the context of the project, I would like to thank all participating patients, without whose blood donations this translational work would never have been possible. Thanks for all the funds from Friedreich’s ataxia patients’ organizations that made this work feasible: GOFAR, FARA, AFAF. Thanks to all the other

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funds, which sponsored this project: Fondazione CRT, Fonds Erasme – Jean Van Damme, FMRE, FNRS.

Thanks to my parents and to my sister for their love and unconditional support.

Dad, your motivation and your wonders helped me to achieve the goal I came for to Brussels. Mom, you are always around me despite the geographic separation, encouraging me to follow my dreams. You both taught me to struggle in many ways. Sis, you are and will always be a special source of joy in my life.

Thanks to all my friends both in Lebanon and in Belgium, for their support and encouragement. Sharing Saturday morning breakfasts and cultural activities, running, shopping, baby-sitting, going out or just exchanging SMS provided me with the necessary distraction from work.

Last but not least, I wish to thank my loving husband for simply taking care of me all the way. Nehman, thanks for being supportive and patient, thanks for understanding my tight schedule throughout the past 6 years, thanks for dealing with my bad mood after some tough days.

I dedicate this work to Mina, Bernardo, Alice and Diego Ruggeri, my “adoptive”

family.

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