Native of Laval, Jean-Pierre Perreault successively completed a bachelor's degree program (1986), master's degree (1988) and doctorate (1990) in biochemistry at the Universiy of Montreal. Under the supervision of Dr. Robert J. Cedergren, he participated in the synthesis of the first RNA polymers, then mixed RNA / DNA polymers. He has also developed the use of these new molecules as tools in molecular biology for studying the structure-function relationships of RNAs, which are in fact the product of genes, as well as their use in pharmaceutical research and development. This pioneering work allowed him to receive the «Prix d'Excellence de l'Académie des Grands Montréalais» for the best thesis of the biomedical sector in 1991. He then completed a post-doctoral training at Yale University (1990-1993). Under the direction of Professor Sidney Altman, winner of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of catalytic RNAs, he worked on the characterization of RNase P, an enzyme essential for life.
Professor Perreault has been teaching at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at the University of Sherbrooke since 1993. He has been a professor since 2002 in the Department of Biochemistry, where he was the director from 2004 to 2010. He directed the Graduate Master's and Doctoral Program in Biochemistry from 1995 to 2000 and the Bachelor of Biochemistry from 2004 to 2010. He developed one of the first courses offered via the Internet, which is now offered by other campuses universities in Canada. In 2009, he was appointed Associate Dean of Development for the FMSS. From 2010 to 2017, he was Vice-Dean, Research and Graduate Studies at the FMHS. He is now Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies at University of Sherbrooke.
In terms of his research, he has developed a group that is interested in understanding how RNA molecules fold to adopt active structures capable of assuming different biological activities (ribozymes and G-quadruplex motifs). He is a molecular biologist expert in the enzymology of RNAs as well as the study of the smallest pathogens discovered to date, viroids. He held the Canada Research Chair in Catalytic Genomics and RNA from 2002 to 2009 and since then has been the University of Sherbrooke research chair on RNA structure and genomics. He is very active in the molecular engineering development of applications associated with the fundamental discoveries of his laboratory.
He was the first director of the RNA Biology Research Center (1999-2009) and a co-founder of RiboClub, the Canadian group of researchers interested in studying RNAs. He also chaired the Canadian Society for Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, a body he served on for several years. Under his leadership, the organization became the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences.