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Four new teams at the Research Center

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As we kick off 2019, Stéphanie Descroix, Hélène Salmon Wolfgang Keil and Thomas Walter will be taking over their own research teams at Institut Curie. A new governance which signals a new boost for some promising research themes.

In 2019, there are four major team changes to report within the Research Center at Institut Curie.

First of all, Stéphanie Descroix also belongs to this UMR 168, and her team will also be hosted at the IPGG. She takes the reins from Jean-Louis Viovy – now researcher emeritus – to head two types of bio-physical projects. First she will develop new microfluidic tools. She will thus analyze certain circulating biomarkers, the molecules present in the blood that signal the presence of cancer, its development or the effectiveness of a treatment. In addition, her team will develop organs on chips. Thanks to these miniature systems that can be controlled as we wish, researchers can determine the influence of each parameter of the living conditions of the cells or tumors. The exceptional technical platform at IPGG will allow biologists, clinicians and biophysicists to find answers to a broad range of questions.

Hélène Salmon won another international call for bids to create a new team in the Immunity and cancer unit (U932). Immunity is a theme that’s dear to Institut Curie, and immunotherapies are currently changing the outlook for a large number of patients suffering from cancer, even in the advanced stages. Hélène Salmon and her colleagues will be working on the signal exchanges between the stroma cells, the tissue supporting organs and tumors, and the immune cells responsible for preserving the integrity of the organism. For this the team will benefit from 1.5 million euros in funding over 5 years, awarded by the ARC to the person that the association considers “a future leader in oncology.”

Biophysicist Wolfgang Keil responded to an international call to create a new team in the physical chemistry laboratory at Institut Curie (UMR168). Hosted by the Institut Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (IPGG), this group of researchers will be tasked with furthering knowledge on developmental biology. During these early stages in the life of a multi-cellular organism, the cascade divisions from a single cell lead to the creation of a huge variety of cells, specializing in the different functions needed for the adult organism. This young team leader has a conviction: “The mathematical and physical concepts are essential to understanding precisely how the joint action of gene networks and environmental factors leads to the emergence of biological forms.”

Lastly, Thomas Walter is taking over as interim leader of Jean-Philippe Vert’s team at the Bioinformatics center at the École des Mines, in partnership with Institut Curie. This large and experienced group of 13 people, already created, will thus continue to develop machine learning and artificial intelligence methods to assist biology and health. Researchers manipulate big data; these enormous quantities of diverse data, figures and information which are now produced by biological and genome examinations. Artificial intelligence – now and in the future – helps us discover biomarkers, assist physicians in their diagnoses and better prescribe personalized treatments.