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Interview with Philippe Gesnouin


Inria-Industry Meetings: Health Forum

Philippe Gesnouin © INRIA / Photo C. Tourniaire  Philippe Gesnouin © Inria / Photo C. Tourniaire

On 15 April in Bordeaux, Inria will be holding an Inria-Industry meetings event on the theme of ‘digital industries for health’. This event will be held concurrently with the IHE Connectathon, the annual European meeting on data standardisation in the health sector. To mark the occasion, Philippe Gesnouin looks back at Inria's research work and technological contributions in the sector, and discusses the choice of the Aquitaine basin as the ideal venue for these meetings.

Interview with Philippe Gesnouin , Head of Life Sciences and Health, Inria Technology Transfer and Innovation Department.

What place does the health industry occupy at Inria?

Philippe Gesnouin:  In recent years, information technologies have come to play an essential role in the health industry. They allow better use to be made of medical data, and facilitate the development of new tools to assist with diagnosis and prescription. They also provide valuable teaching and learning resources. Historically, life sciences and medical sciences have been important fields of application for Inria. In recent times, the Institute has chosen to involve itself more in the areas of medical informatics, e-health, and home healthcare. Help for disabled people is also a predominant theme in our research.

What technology transfer actions has Inria been involved in in this sector?

Philippe Gesnouin:  One of Inria’s tasks is to identify and support existing French businesses and those in the process of being created. In the sector of life sciences and health, the Institute collaborates with large global groups and SMEs (such as Diatelic, Digital-Trainers, Syneika and Robosoft, who will all be present in Bordeaux on 15 April). It is involved in nationwide and international initiatives such as the Centre National de Référence Santé à Domicile et Autonomie (National Reference Centre for Home Health and Independent Living) and IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise). Medical imaging is also a major area of research and innovation.

Can you give us a foretaste of the demonstrations of Inria technologies that will be presented?

Philippe Gesnouin:  Constant innovation is a must in the health industry. The scientific breakthroughs made by Inria’s research teams make a vital contribution to this process. More generic results in the fields of the semantic web, sensor networks or home automation also have an impact on health issues. The demonstrations on 15 April will include: a simulation of organ movement during respiration, surgical procedure simulators with a virtual patient, and demonstrations concerning the optimisation of personal assistance applications.

Why hold the event in Bordeaux?

Philippe Gesnouin:  The healthcare software industry has a strong presence in the Aquitaine region. According to a 2008 study, the region is France’s best for employment, due in no small part to the presence of a pool of experts in medical informatics. The regional innovation agency (Innovalis-Aquitaine) wishes to further reinforce the region’s unique industrial strength. Inria also has a presence in the Aquitaine basin in the form of its Bordeaux Sud-Ouest research centre. Our links with the region and our involvement in IHE made Bordeaux the natural choice of venue for these meetings. We also lobbied to ensure that the tenth edition of the European Connectathon would be held in the region at the same time.

Interoperability of health information systems

Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) is an international initiative which aims to facilitate interoperability among health information systems and equipment

This pragmatic initiative establishes integration or content profiles and proposes practical, concrete procedures for using standards (HL7, Dicom, ebXML, etc.). Each year, at the Connectathon, the different healthcare applications are linked up and tested on a common platform, with the aim of checking their interoperability.

Inria is closely involved in IHE (as a founder member in Europe) and in organising Connectathons. Eric Poiseau, an Inria research engineer, is the technical coordinator of the European event, working within the Rennes-based IHE-Development team. This strong involvement allows Inria to maintain close relationships with all players in the field of e-health. More than 300 companies from across the world have already taken part in a Connectathon.

Keywords: Technology Transfer Health industry Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest Philippe Gesnouin Digital industry IHE Life sciences Biotechnology