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Inria and the Institut Pasteur in Lille sign a transdisciplinary partnership framework agreement on digital sciences and health

Whilst research in the field of life sciences has made considerable progress over recent decades, an increase in life expectancy or the arrival of new epidemics pose continuously renewed challenges for researchers. Today, medicine and the digital sciences go hand in hand, requiring a transdisciplinary approach. The Institut Pasteur in Lille and Inria therefore wanted to sign a transdisciplinary partnership framework agreement for various research projects.

Meeting new health challenges

The modern era is dominated by two major factors affecting our near future: the population explosion, with its epidemiological and environmental consequences, and greater life expectancy, linked to medical progress, with its political and societal consequences.

For these reasons, the health sector is at the forefront of research in biology and, together with the digital sciences, will be one of the main creators of jobs over the coming decades. The Institut Pasteur in Lille is developing research in biology and health, directed towards longevity with the desire to "live better, and live longer", through a multidisciplinary approach that aims for a better understanding of illnesses related to ageing (Alzheimer's, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, infectious diseases...). Its mission is also to develop new vaccinations and medicines, as well as new therapeutic and prevention strategies.

This research requires a multidisciplinary approach in close cooperation with the digital sciences. Indeed, the analysis and comparison of genomes, the analysis of complex cell images, the processing and analysis of the "big data" generated, the design of molecules, the modelling of epidemics or metabolic mechanisms are all areas of investigation that justify a closer connection between a research institute in biology and health and a digital sciences research institute.

Collaborative projects that will be reinforced

Inria's strategy is to develop, around the city of Lille, a centre of scientific excellence with a strong local impact and an international influence. In order to do this, it relies on ambitious research themes in the field of digital sciences: data intelligence and adaptive software systems. Beyond synergies between researchers, Inria participates in the transfer of expertise for technological innovations in digital technology in numerous fields relating to the economic world or towards other subject areas (human and social sciences, physics, health).

Cooperation is established through projects between the teams at the Lille Institut Pasteur campus and Inria project teams, and will be reinforced around research themes that are of interest to both parties, such as:

- research in bioinformatics, for example the development of tools for the large-scale analysis of genomes and sequences. This research includes the definition of combinatorial models and effective algorithms, implementation via robust and distributed software, the validation of biological data;
- research in machine learning: developing efficient procedures in order to extract information from large volumes of complex data. This includes the issues of classification and prediction. Learning requires skills that are on the boundary between applied mathematics and computer science;

- research in integrative biology: the integration of clinical or omic data (genomic, transcriptomic, epigenomic...) or imaging require both developments in computer science in order to integrate the different databases, and developments in applied mathematics (related or not to the above-mentioned field of learning) in order to define appropriate models.

Joint workshops between the two institutes enable researchers in the two disciplines to comprehend new research paths and to elaborate original scientific roadmaps at the highest international level. These projects could be supported jointly by the establishments, but could also benefit from cross-funding from the CTRL (transdisciplinary research centre on longevity) and the "Advanced Data Science and Technologies" project (Data), which have both signed up to the 2015-2020 State-Region plan contract.

About the Institut Pasteur in Lille

The Institut Pasteur in Lille is a foundation that is officially recognised as serving the public interest, whose research is directed towards infectious diseases, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, as well as towards research on new molecules with therapeutic goals. The Foundation also develops its applied research activities relating to the environment with a microbiological security unit and a genetic toxicology department, as well as providing expertise and advice on nutrition. Public health measures are, for their part, carried out within the health education and prevention centre, which incorporates a vaccination centre certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Lille Institut Pasteur press contact:

About Inria

Inria, a French national research institute devoted to digital technology, promotes "scientific excellence in the service of technology transfer and society". Inria's employs 2,700 staff from the world's top universities, who address the challenges of computer sciences and mathematics. The institute is spread across France via its eight research centres.
The Inria Lille – Nord Europe research centre, created in 2008, has 360 staff including 300 scientists across 17 research teams. Recognised for its high level of involvement in the socio-economic development of the Hauts-de-France region, the Inria Lille - Nord Europe research centre, alongside its academic, institutional and industrial partners, works on major research and innovation projects in the field of digital technology.

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Keywords: Institut Pasteur Partenerships