The microbiota in human health
and well being.


The Micalis Institute is a research unit jointly run (unite mixte de recherche, UMR) by the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food, and Environmental Sciences (AgroParisTech). It gathers more than 300 employees, including 115 researchers, engineers and teachers, and 80 PhD, post doctorate, and internship fellows. Its 23 research teams are organized in three thematic poles and seven technological platforms. MICALIS has a portfolio of 19 patents on molecular biology tools, biotechnological processes and products and recently filed two patent applications on metagenomics based diagnosis of inflammatory bowel diseases and obesity.


The Ecosystems Pole considers microbial systems as key factors of food quality and human health. Its aim is to understand the mechanisms that set up and maintain the homeostasis of relationships between food, microbiota and host as well as the breaking conditions leading to various immune, metabolic or degenerative pathologies. The studies undertaken include structural and functional dynamics of food microbial ecosystems, on the one hand, cross talk between microorganisms and human cells, and interactions between microbiota physiology and human health, on the other hand.


Systems biology considers organisms and biological processes as whole systems rather than addition of individual components. It strives to represent, model and simulate the complexity of these systems with mathematical models to be validated by experimental biology, opening avenues for new research directions aimed at exploiting the biosynthesis and degradation capacities hold by these organisms for human benefits and creating new tailor made biological systems.


The overall aim of the Risks Pole is to unravel the mechanisms determining the pathogenicity of microorganisms, making for instance an organism inoffensive in a given environment, producing toxic molecules under environmental changes.




Among the Future Investments initiatives, one was specifically targeted towards research in human health. Several hospital-university institutes have been selected, including ICAN which is headed by Dr. Karine Clément, Professor of Nutrition at UPMC.

ICAN was founded by INSERM, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (l'APHP) and Pierre et Marie Curie University Paris VI and draws on these institutes for medical and scientific expertise.


ICAN is dedicated to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in relation to nutrition.

Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are closely related. They affect a large and ever-growing proportion of the French population. The instances for diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity, for examples, affect 14.5% of the population while cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 75. Despite many advances and discoveries, there remains substantially more to do to prevent and treat these chronic diseases.


ICAN, what goals?

The fight against these diseases raises to challenges: On the one hand, it is not possible to accurately predict the onset of disease, additional complications or the moment when it becomes chronic. On the other hand, these pathologies require an assimilation of different aspects: the macro-environment of an individual (food, physical activity, socio-economic conditions, stress...) as well as micro-environment (biological factors : genetic and epigenetic). Moreover, some organs such as the intestine and its microbiota play an important role in the cross talk between macro and micro-environments. The major objectives of ICAN are founded on predicting the evolution of disease and gaining further insight into this complexity in order to improve treatment options for the individual. This is the essence of what is called personnalized medicine. New tools must be developed to bring about its full potential.


ICAN a translational research project

It is a question of quickly providing scientific discoveries to individuals. The ICAN project will develop innovative diagnostic tools and treatments. They will encourage public and private partnerships, particularly at an early stage, in order to jump-start this translation toward patients.


ICAN what human resources?

ICAN mobilizes an impressive scientific community; Healthcare actors and researchers alike are at the heart of ICAN! More than 400 healthcare professionals and 120 researchers are invested in the project. ICAN will expand its national and international links and its industrial partnerships. To tackle the complexity of the subject, it has assembled a broad range of expertise in cardiology and metabolism and also in microbiology. The various fields of expertise involved in this project, by its nature, ensures an interdisciplinary environment which will be harnessed to ensure high quality training for modern medicine focused on cardio-metabolic diseases linked to nutrition. ICAN will make use of the latest technology and the corresponding high throughput data analysis will require the support of experts and the development of state of the art methods. It is in this context that partnerships including that developed with MGP have been implemented.


The Catholic University of Lyon (UCLy) is a private university of 12,500 students, recognized by the French state and member of the PRES/Université de Lyon. It is made up of five faculties and 20 research and education bodies, among which the Interdisciplinary Centre in Ethics (CIE) which is particularly devoted to bioethics. The aim of CIE is to :


Perform researches on ethical issues in medicine and biotechnologies

Give internal and external trainings in ethics

Propose exchanges with partners on main ethical questions related to the health issue.


Research at the CIE is conducted by four permanent researchers under the leadership of Prof. Jean-Marie Gueullette, PhD, MD, HDR, in connection with philosophers and scientists, among which researchers of the Laboratory of Biology of the UCLy’s Faculty of Science. Moreover, a Master in Biobank Management has been recently developed by this faculty, which is quite important for MetaGenoPolis.


Finally, the recent arrival at UCLy of Prof. Thierry Magnin, president, PhD, HDR, state university professor in Ethics of Sciences and Techniques, who is already involved in ANR programmes allowed, the development of a research group in ethics of nanobiotechnologies. The Catholic University of Lyon is particularly interested through MetaGenoPolis to work in situ with researchers and industrials, who will bring their direct technical experience. This topic is directly within its competence fields and will undoubtedly be a significant asset for applied research in the field of ethics.