SISTM the Centre's latest team!
Since April, a new research team has joined the Inria Bordeaux – Sud-Ouest Research Centre. Its name? SISTM, for Statistics In Systems biology and Translational Medicine. In French, Statistiques pour la biologie systémique et la médecine translationnelle.
The work of the SISTM team's biostatisticians involves developing innovative statistical methods for medical applications. One application in particular is driving and guiding this research: immunology and vaccinology, more especially within the framework of infection by the AIDS virus.
Systems biology and translational medicine
The two aspects of systems biology and translational medicine (to which the team's name refers) represent the modern application context for methods developed by the team.
The term "systems biology" refers to what could be called a global or multi-level approach. In concrete terms, within a disease, account will be taken of all measurements, from those relating to the tiniest part of a cell to others that are more global, such as the clinical symptoms affecting the patient.
As for translational medicine, it translates the close links that exist between clinical medicine, biology and public health.
Therefore, the data is of different kinds, on different levels and of a vast quantity. Consequently, retrieving and understanding the information provided by this data requires appropriate tools, including statistical learning methods and mathematical models.
Big data in health
There are currently a vast number of avenues to be explored in order to develop an AIDS vaccine, but these are complex. For each of these avenues, researchers need to analyse the effect of vaccines in order to understand what is happening. While previously, a single marker was used to analyse a vaccine (measurement of circulating antibodies), there are now tens of thousands of these to be monitored. More generally, understanding how immuno-interventions work generates a vast quantity of data, which necessitates the development of specific statistical analysis tools.
Rodolphe Thiébaut , a senior research scientist at the INSERM (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) and Leader of the SISTM team , has an educational background as both a doctor and a biostatistician. Therefore, it is perfectly natural for him to give prominence to multidisciplinary collaboration in his research programmes.
« With these kinds of issues, there must be strong ties between clinicians, immunologists, mathematicians, computer scientists and, of course, biostatisticians. Some of the work we are currently carrying out is similar to that being undertaken by several Inria teams in Bordeaux, including CQFD and ALEA with which we are already working. What's more, the creation of SISTM has enabled me to find out about other teams with which we could probably collaborate, including MC2 and MAGNOME . In my view, the institutionalisation of our relations is important and could be really beneficial. In our work, we really do need to work closely with computational sciences. »
We completely understand that the challenge of a partnership between the subject of health and computational sciences is a major one, in particular given the current explosion in the quantity of data. This is also reaffirmed by the Institute in its new strategic plan: health is one of the fields of application that poses real challenges for computational sciences and which is currently a priority.
The team, which is made up of biostatisticians, is based on the Carreire campus at Bordeaux Segalen. The team's permanent members are two lecturers and two INSERM senior research scientists (including Rodolphe Thiébaut, the Team Leader). The team is currently strengthened by four PhD students, an engineer, an assistant engineer and an assistant from the university hospital.
SISTM is a joint team with the INSERM and the University of Bordeaux . It was put together in partnership with the INSERM Research Centre U897, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, established within the Institute of Public Health Epidemiology and Development (ISPED) at the University of Bordeaux Segalen . In addition, the team forms part of the Labex VRI (Vaccine Research Institute) .