Clinical Investigation Centers (CICs)

Expertise, skill, professionalism: the Inserm clinical investigation centers ensure that medical scientific data are generated under optimum quality and safety conditions. In a demanding and ever-change environment, both at national and international level, the CICs offer resources of excellence for clinical research.

Created in 1992, Inserm clinical investigation centers (CICs) offer scientists and clinicians the necessary resources to pass on the results of fundamental research to patients. This stage of research, in which knowledge and technology are mobilized for the benefit of health, is known as translational clinical research.

36 CICs organized into 54 theme-based modules and split into theme-based networks

The CICs take charge of research on:

  • humans, whether healthy volunteers or patient volunteers, within the scope of clinical trials or epidemiological studies 
  • health data
  • biological specimen collections
  • health technology instruments

36 CICs have been created to date. These are all located in university hospitals (CHU). CICs are structures open to investigators and sponsors from all backgrounds, academic, institutional and industrial, as a place to conduct their research projects.

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Since 2005, some CICs have been organized into theme-based networks, to ensure better coordination between research forces and site hosting capacity. The different fields are as follows:

  • cardiovascular
  • gastroenterology and hepatology
  • neurosciences
  • pediatrics
  • thrombosis
  • vaccines
  • technological innovations
  • clinical epidemiology
  • gynecology-obstetrics

CICs meeting the needs of specialist fields at the sites

The diverse requirements of university hospitals and scientists have led to different "modules" being set up within the CICs. A given site may have several modules. To date, 54 modules currently exist, distributed as follows:

  • 27 multi-theme (MT) modules - Their mission: to develop essentially translational clinical research, with targeted activity on the priority themes of the host site. These are equipped with human resources (doctors, nurses) and material resources (beds, clinics, laboratory) to accommodate subjects taking part in clinical research.
  • 9 clinical epidemiology (CE) modules - These bring together epidemiologists, methodologists, biostatisticians, and clinical research technicians. Their field: cohort studies, surveys, creation of registries with continuous, exhaustive data collection for health events, evaluation of strategies and health actions.
  • 10 biological therapy (BT) modules – These develop cell and gene therapy protocol, originating from fundamental and translational research to benefit rare diseases, and vaccines protocols.
  • 8 technological innovation (TI) modules – A single objective: to transition the technological innovation as quickly as possible to diagnostic and therapeutic patient management. Numerous different fields are involved: medical devices, biomaterials, biomarkers, and imaging, etc.

The European dimension: ECRIN and F-CRIN

Inserm is part of ECRIN (European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network). The creation of F-CRIN, the French component of ECRIN, has enabled the national CIC network to become better integrated into European and international projects with high scientific added value.

Ambitions for excellence

Every five years, each CIC undergoes scientific evaluation by an independent authority: Haut conseil de l'évaluation de la recherche et de l'enseignement supérieur (HCRES, French authority for evaluation of research and higher education). This evaluation, based on international best practices, reveals highly positive results for the CICs:

  • contribution to rapid expansion, dynamic and leadership in clinical research
  • participation in structuring clinical research in the majority of university hospitals
  • improvement in the quality of research at all levels (liaison between fundamental research and health care, methodology, technology, professionalization, quality assurance, training)


Since their creation, close on 10,000 scientific publications have been generated by activities developed within the CICs, a third of which feature in journals with a high impact factor. This performance is clearly above average in terms of international standards in the field of clinical research. Japan, Uruguay, India, and Tunisia have already adopted the French CIC model.