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L'Oréal - UNESCO Awards

Aline Brillu - 9/10/2018

Fanny Orlhac, receives a L'Oréal-UNESCO grant for Women in Science

Fanny Orlhac ©Fondation L'Oréal Carl Diner

Fanny Orlhac, a post-doctoral fellow in the Epione team at the Inria Center in Sophia Antipolis - Mediterranean, is working on a system that could improve cancer patients care. She is the winner of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Grant for Women in Science, which awards some thirty young women scientists each year.

Fanny Orlhac knew very quickly that she would be a scientist. "In college, I had a physics teacher who was very important to my career. She turned me away from mathematics and I knew very quickly that I would do physics. In the eighth grade, she told me: you'll be bored until college and then it'll get better... ", remembers the researcher. She then went on to earn a degree in physics, a master's degree in medical imaging, a thesis, and a post-doc..." I always wanted to conduct research, because I liked the idea of finding answers to problems that may not have any. And I wanted to help make things better. »

« Improving patient care »

It is precisely to move science forward that Fanny Orlhac chose to focus on cancer treatment and precision medicine. Her work involves developing new medical image analysis of patients with advanced breast cancer. "My objective is to extract diagnostic and prognostic indicators from the images and combine them with other biological indicators to accurately characterize tumor heterogeneity . "An algorithm will then be able to predict whether or not the patient will respond positively to the treatment. This will allow the doctor to avoid giving the patient unnecessary treatment and offer her an alternative therapeutic solution. "I quickly became passionate about this subject ," she admits. There is a major public health challenge, we are helping to improve the care of patients even further . »

A recognition

Thanks to this work, the researcher is now the winner of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Grant for Women in Science, which rewards some thirty doctoral and post-doctoral students each year. "This is a great recognition that highlights young women scientists whose careers are not necessarily very common. "With this bonus of 20,000 euros, Fanny Orlhac hopes to increase participation in congresses, conferences and learned societies. Objective: to speak and make her research known. "It's a fairly young research theme and we really need to communicate. "The focus is on health professionals, the first to be impacted by precision medicine. "They may sometimes feel that their work will be stolen or that artificial intelligence will make decisions for them. In reality, the objective is to provide them with new tools, free up their time and improve patient follow-up. »

Inria's expertise in statistical analysis

At the same time, Fanny Orlhac will of course continue her research work. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Epione project team at the Inria centre in Sophia Antipolis Méditerranée where she is refining her models. "I knew how to extract the indexes from the images. Now I'm trying to combine them effectively. At Inria, I found another way of looking at things, more oriented towards statistical learning. It is this expertise that I have come to seek. " The researcher works in particular with the nuclear medicine department of the Antoine Lacassagne centre in Nice. "Today, the challenge is to test the models and verify that they are valid and robust. For this we need more patient data, with their images and clinical information. We are working hand in hand with physicians to achieve this goal. »

After her post-doctorate, she hopes to join a major research institute. To further advance cancer treatment and prevention. "I will try to extend my work to other diseases such as gliomas or lung cancers. »


2007 - Scientific Baccalaureat, Pontoise

2007-2010 Bachelor of Physics, University of Cergy-Pontoise.

2010-2012 Master of Medical Physics, University of Paris-Sud, le Kremlin-Bicêtre

2012-2015 Thesis, IMIV laboratory, CEA-SHFJ, Orsay 2012-2015 - University Diploma in Higher Biomedical Training, IFSBM, Villejuif

2015-2017 First post-doctoral fellow, Lidex PIM CEA-SHFJ/Gustave Roussy, Orsay

2017-2019 Second post-doctorate, Epione Team, Inria Sophia-Antipolis