Research infrastructure is a crucial component of high-level, competitive research: the equipment, resources, and services used by scientists to carry out their research and deliver innovation in their fields. It also plays a role in method development and improvement. Inserm coordinates numerous infrastructures, which are housed by its laboratories or gathered within certified joint service units. The Institute also coordinates four national infrastructures.
Infrastructure now plays a crucial role in the life and health sciences: the time when fairly rudimentary benchtop equipment could lead to major research breakthroughs is coming to an end. Life and health sciences now advance largely thanks to more complex tools and approaches, including structural analysis, the -omics, cell imaging and bioimaging, molecular engineering, bioinformatics, in silico modeling, and the management and integration of big data. Infrastructure lies at the heart of this movement.
These infrastructures are an integral part of high-level, competitive research, and their quality plays a crucial role in attracting both academic and industrial research teams.
Inserm Research Infrastructure
The Inserm infrastructure covers 23 spheres of activity that are crucial to the work of its researchers. These research infrastructures are housed and managed by the laboratories, or grouped within joint service units (US). Inserm currently has about 40 certified joint service units, which provide scientific, technological, or managerial shared services.
The research infrastructures are organized into platforms. Each platform corresponds to a group (on one or several sites) of technical and human methods designed to offer high-level services and technological resources to the scientific community. Platform staff may co-develop scientific programs with staff from a research unit.
Inserm Platform Spheres of Activity
- Animal services, functional testing, and phenotyping
- Bioinformatics and bioanalysis
- Cell, molecular, and genetic biology, and recombinant proteins
- Structural biology and biophysics
- Cohort studies, databases, and bioethics
- Screening platform and chemical library
- Genomics and transcriptomics
- Hadron therapy
- Histopathology and histomorphology
- Cell imaging and cytometry
- Information technology
- BSL-3 laboratory
- BSL-4 laboratory
- Regenerative medicine
- New therapies, vectorization, and stem cells
- Proteomics and mass spectrometry
- Translational/clinical research and biobanks
Inserm and National Infrastructures
The Infrastructures nationales en biologie/santé (National Biology/Health Infrastructures), created by France’s Investments for the Future program, provide a high value-added service to the whole academic community, but also to private partners. These projects ensure technological development at the highest level, providing effective support for progress in biomedical research.
Inserm is involved in 16 national infrastructures :
- Ingestem : a network for therapeutic innovations based on induced pluripotent stem cells and human tissue engineering
- F-CRIN : infrastructure dedicated to clinical research
- Hidden : P4 virology laboratory
- Constances : large epidemiological cohort consisting of a representative sample of adults consulting in health examination centres
- France Génomique : grouping and sharing of French genomics and bioinformatics platforms for data production and analysis
- IFB : French Institute of Bioinformatics
- Tefor : integrated services for genome editing, genetic implant and 3D image acquisition in zebrafish and fruit fly
- Phenomin : national mouse phenomenomics infrastructure
- FBI (France Bio-Imaging) : infrastructure for the development and promotion of innovation in biological imaging
- Frisbi : integrated structural biology infrastructure
- ProFI : infrastructure offering a platform of services dedicated to the study of the proteome
- MetaboHub : national infrastructure in metabolomics and fluxomics (rate of metabolic reactions), providing technologies and services
- E Cell France : research infrastructure in regenerative medicine based on the use of mesenchymal stem cells
- FLI (France Life Imaging) : this network promotes innovative technologies in biomedical imaging and related services
- Neuratris : translational research infrastructure for innovative therapies in neuroscience
- Idmit : national infrastructure dedicated to preclinical research through the development of new animal models
The Inserm Infrastructures Committee
The Inserm Infrastructures Committee was created in 2016 within the Health Technologies theme-based institute. It aims to coordinate, strengthen, and add value to the Institute’s technology platforms and service units, which are crucial for progress in biomedical research.
Infrastructures and/or technological platforms labelled as service units by Inserm (or wishing to become one) are the subject of specific support from the Infrastructures Committee. Supported by the cluster's Accompaniment mission, this support aims to organise the right balance between the platforms' service offer and the researchers' needs. The support process is governed by a strict procedure, and takes place within the same timeframe as the evaluation waves of the Joint Research Units (UMRs).