Jean-Christophe Hébert, 2020 Innovation Prize

During the current health crisis, Inserm Legal Affairs Department director Jean-Christophe Hébert and his team have also been highly active in setting up the contracts necessary for the Institute’s COVID-19 research projects. It is in honor of his efficacy that he has been awarded the Innovation Prize.

Jean-Christophe Hébert © Inserm/François Guénet
Jean-Christophe Hébert © Inserm/François Guénet

« An Inserm product, through and through » is how Jean-Christophe Hébert, 48, defines himself. Having joined the Institute nearly 20 years ago following his university studies of science and law, this amateur photographer and fan of « isolated places like the Scottish Highlands » has gradually risen through the ranks. « Hired as a ‘simple’ legal specialist in 2001, I became deputy director of the Legal Affairs Department in 2004, then director in 2011″, he explains.

During the first wave of COVID-19, Hébert and his six colleagues had – among other things – handled the legal aspects involved in drawing up partnership agreements: key documents, without which none of the COVID-19 research projects launched by Inserm would have been possible. 

Determining the duties and obligations of the various parties

« Drawn up in close collaboration with various Inserm entities (Clinical Research Unit, ANRS, Regional Offices…) and Inserm Transfert – the subsidiary responsible for value creation, these contracts set out the rights and obligations of the various parties involved, he explains. For example, the various agreements for the clinical trial Discovery stipulate that the pharmaceutical companies concerned shall supply the therapeutic molecules tested and that Inserm shall share with them the results obtained. »

Given the many research projects launched since the health crisis began, Hébert and his colleagues have seen major increases in their workload. But they were not counting on a powerful motivating factor: « The awareness of being engaged in a common, global fight that concerns us all. »