Creation of the InBio exploratory action with the Institut Pasteur
Inria / Grégory Batt
On 1 February InBio was created, the result of the collaboration between the Inria Saclay - Île-de-France research centre and the Institut Pasteur. Grégory Batt becomes the head of this exploratory action hosted by the Lifeware team and presents his project: automating the discovery process in biology.
Initially trained in molecular and cellular biology, Grégory Batt, member of the Lifeware, project team, has been working for almost ten years with Pascal Hersen, biophysicist at the Université Paris Diderot, in order to better understand cellular functioning by developing quantitative modelling and measurement approaches. "This close collaboration showed me the interest - necessity even - of linking methodological and experimental work in a very precise way," Grégory Batt explains.
In this context, the creation of new research units by the Centre for Bioinformatics, Biostatistics and Integrative Biology (C3BI) at the Institut Pasteur provided the opportunity - which is still very rare in France - of carrying out both experimental research (wet biology) and theoretical research (dry biology) within a single structure.
Research in this field is most often carried out within two different structures - one in charge of experimental questions and the other of methodological issues. A virtuous circle is put in place in which experimental data feeds the development of computer models which, in return, suggest new experiments, generating new data...
Research efforts naturally focus more on obtaining an answer to the specific questions asked than on the implementation process of this virtuous circle.
The aim of InBio is precisely to take this circle and its automation as the main questions to be studied.
"The idea is to facilitate the identification of experimental observation systems and design of experiments in order to characterise the system of interest in an optimal manner, carry out these experiments and use them to improve models of the system. This will then make it possible to suggest the development of another observation system and/or the realisation of another design of experiments." Grégory Batt explains.
This enables a better understanding of InBio's full name: Experimental and computational methods for modeling cellular processes.
Multidisciplinary research, a specialism in itself?
The usual set-up for research at the interface of two disciplines is that of a collaboration between two distinct entities. The result is naturally multidisciplinary research, i.e. a collaboration between two specialised individuals.
Conversely, the specific structure of InBio and the research that will take place there should facilitate the development of truly interdisciplinary research , where one person will be in charge of the entirety of the problem studied:
"Given the difficulty of the challenge, which consists in understanding the integrated functioning of cells at molecular level and in a quantitative manner, interdisciplinary approaches today still seem difficult to implement and yet are more necessary than ever" Grégory Batt underlines.