Health, life sciences, biotechnology
Interview with Philippe Gesnouin, Sector Associate
Philippe Gesnouin © Inria / Photo C. Tourniaire
Information and communication technologies have come to occupy a vital place in the health industry. Inria is forging an increasing number of partnerships in bio-informatics and medical imaging, disciplines in which the institute has been well positioned for a decade now. Work is being undertaken in new sectors, such as telehealth, home healthcare and medical data processing, for which strong growth is expected, particularly due to social demand related to increased life spans. Interview with Philippe Gesnouin, Technology Transfer Associate for Health, Life Sciences & Biotechnologies.
What place do health-related themes occupy at Inria?
Philippe Gesnouin: An increasingly important place since the institute first carved out a strategic position in these fields some ten years ago: 20% of our teams work on this field, which is central to Inria's strategic plan. The applications are vast and our industrial partnerships diverse. Two examples are computational simulation of the heart in order to make progress towards "cardiac engineering", and simulation of surgical operations to help train future practitioners. Another example, which uses radically different scientific skills, is medical knowledge management, with tools to help make the most of large, heterogeneous databases. Increasingly, medical data is available in digital form. The aim is to make better use of these data in order to develop monitoring, diagnostic assistance and prescription assistance tools, teaching and learning materials, etc.
Can you give us an example of a particularly productive field?
Philippe Gesnouin: Innovation can bring a lot to the field of home healthcare and aid for independent living, with the emergence of innovative SMEs. We are therefore helping to establish the Centre National de Référence Santé à Domicile et Autonomie [National Reference Centre for Home Health and Independent Living], an initiative of the Ministry of Industry. In this context, my role is to understand this complex ecosystem, in which the regulation/certification authorities play a key role, to identify these SMEs and to put them in contact with the researchers. The aim remains to maximise the impact of the work done at Inria. For example, we want to establish a partnership with a business to offer a monitoring service for sufferers of Alzheimer's disease. The PULSAR team, a specialist in video image analysis, can, in such cases, help the business to improve the performances of its products, notably by helping to identify atypical situations – such as a person in difficulty - and sending alerts. The company can therefore achieve a competitive advantage on the market.
You are taking part in the international initiative called IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise)…
Philippe Gesnouin: Yes, Inria is a founder member of IHE-Europe. It's a good example of the role Inria plays within these ecosystems. The aim of this initiative is to facilitate interoperability between medical devices and among health information systems. The shared platform for interoperability tests has essentially been developed by one of our teams. A considerable proportion of the developments are currently being evaluated in order that they might be used to test the compatibility of the software that will be interacting with the future Shared Medical Records.
What can Inria bring to the pharmaceuticals industry?
Philippe Gesnouin: Numerous mathematical tools or software programs are potentially available for pharmaceutical R&D, but it is sometimes difficult to reach our "targets", which are not the traditional targets of an organisation like Inria. We have therefore launched initiatives and projects to overcome these difficulties. For example, the Monolix consortium, initiated and led by Inria, brings together pharmaceutical companies and academic partners, in order to support a decision aid tool. Another example is our participation in the BioIntelligence project, led by Dassault Systèmes, in association with INSERM, SMEs and French pharmaceutical companies. This project aims to build a computational toolkit for pharmaceutical research, along similar lines to what has been done in the automotive and aeronautical industries.
Keywords: Biotechnologies Life sciences Personal assistance Medical assistance Diagnostics Philippe Gesnouin IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) Centre National de Référence Santé à Domicile et Autonomie (National Reference Centre for Home Health and Independent Living) SME BioIntelligence Monolix consortium Drug industries Health
Are you an entrepreneur? An industry stakeholder? Do you want to collaborate with one of our research teams? Contact our Technology Transfer Associate for health, life sciences, and biotechnologies.
Tel.: +33 (0)1 39 63 51 94