Antibiotic Resistance: Inserm at the Helm of France’s Priority Research Program


"Increase research efforts today for decreased antibiotic resistance tomorrow." Such is the slogan of France’s Antibiotic Resistance Priority Research Program (PPR) – with funding from the third Investments for the Future program and whose scientific management has been entrusted to Inserm. Following Gilles Bloch’s submission of the action plan to the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation earlier in the day, we meet with the program’s Scientific Coordinator, Evelyne Jouvin-Marche.


What is the context of this program?

Evelyne Jouvin-Marche: The Investments for the Future programs are dedicated to targeted research projects that build and consolidate the international position of French research in fields where the socioeconomic impact on the country has proven to be potentially significant. These programs are the fruit of discussions and agreements between the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the Directorate for Research and Innovation (DGRI), the National Research Agency (ANR) and the Secretary general for investment (SGPI). The Antibiotic Resistance program is being funded to the tune of 40 million euros.

What scientific challenges does it intend to address?

E. J.-M.: It intends to tackle a number of multidisciplinary challenges based on a scientific consensus: that the transmission of bacteria rendered resistant among animals, humans and their environment is a decisive factor in the spread of antibiotic resistance. Addressing this phenomenon requires strategies that do not dissociate human beings from their environment. So the objective of this PPR is to deploy research initiatives that aim to decrease human use of antibiotics and reverse the trend of resistance.

How did Inserm go about producing its action plan?

E. J.-M.: By means of an interdisciplinary Scientific Advisory Board which mapped France’s strengths in the field of antibiotic resistance. There have also been over 6,000 publications over the last 5 years, half of which produced in conjunction with international teams, which were analyzed. This approach respects the fields of expertise defined by WHO, particularly that of the priority pathogens for which new antibiotics are urgently needed.

Could you give us a general idea of its content?

E. J.-M.: The plan is in four parts. The first concerns the resistance itself and how it spreads. The second explores new therapeutic strategies. The third is focused on technological innovations, particularly Big Data and artificial intelligence, which could be used in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Then the fourth, centered around multidisciplinary aspects, which seeks to understand the challenges in the public, social and psychosocial health, economics, law and also the cultural challenges in the broad sense.

And will be the main actions funded by the PPR?

E. J.-M.: The first will be the development and creation of platforms, networks and observatories dedicated to antibiotic resistance. The second will involve strengthening the research teams through scientific challenges in the form of calls for expressions of interest or calls for interdisciplinary projects, as well as through the creation of positions. And the third will concern facilitation of the national research network and the coordination of an antibiotic resistance research network for countries with limited resources. These actions will be realized within the framework of national calls for expressions of interest, whose conditions of launch, eligibility and selection will be defined by ANR.