«Complexity and diversity of living systems» Academy of Excellence

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«Complexity and diversity of living systems» Academy of Excellence

Presentation

203 permanent researchers in A+/A laboratories out of 474 within a scientific community of 1 112 individuals.

Summary

An extraordinary era of unbroken technological progresses is bringing many fundamental breakthroughs in all domains of biology: genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, cellular and developmental biology, physiology, medicine, etc. A vibrant and well structured community of life sciences has developed on the Côte d’Azur area over the recent years, from the technological park of Sophia Antipolis to the very heart of the Nice University Hospital.

With state of the art research in pharmacology, signaling, membrane transport, psychiatric disorders, adaptation, evolution and development, this community works on important questions of public health (cancer, mental pathologies, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, metabolic anti-inflammatory disorders, biocontrol, plant resistance, ecological management of agrosystems). The tight links developed over the years with all life sciences institutions (CEA, CNRS, INRA, INSERM) have resulted into remarkable successes during past episodes of the French plan “Investments for Future”: three Labexes (SignaLife, ICST, DistAlz) have been selected and local platforms are involved in 3 national infrastructures (France Génomique, Biobanques, EMBRC France). Academy 4 is now tackling 3 major scientific challenges for the 21st century, totally in line with our history but also prone to widen and reinforce our scientific position. Last but not least, this impetus will also favor the advent of a strong local bio-industry.

These challenges are:

  • Improve data processing on any type of biological material, either coming from local resources or from large masses of remote data. The construction of ad hoc data storage, combined with relevant physical or mathematical models, will provide the most precise information collected on biological systems ever. This will mobilize biologists, but also researchers in digital science, systems biology, dynamical systems analysis in time and space, and engineers from the IDEX Modeling Center. An integrated metrological approach will be set up and applied to living systems, inspired by physics, IT, chemistry and engineering sciences. Priority will be given to the development of new technologies able to measure very large numbers of parameters, at scale ranging from single cells all the way up to an organism in its complex environment.
  • Systematic exploration of the special traits that characterize an individual or a species: by identifying common characteristics that link similar biological objects in distant species, a better definition of life and of the bifurcations leading to pathological states will be provided, not only in man but also in a variety of living species. 
  • It is still good time to initiate bio-inspired approaches. This can deal with novel areas such as information storage, but also new experimental models of living systems or pharmacological screening approaches.

These developments will be part of an overall biotechnological platform framework dedicated to eco-innovation planned for the Sophia Antipolis site. The Biology-Health Reference Center in Nice will enable an intensification of research and experimentation in the use of digital techniques in the «health and aging» field. In all cases, priority will be given to the development of original new experimental approaches with strong added value.

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