Inserm and CNRS to Lead Large-Scale Program on Psychiatry Research


Psychiatric illnesses constitute a major public health problem. © Danie Franco/Unsplash

On July 18, 2022, France’s minister for Higher Education and Research Sylvie Retailleau announced an unprecedented psychiatry research effort in the form of 80 million euros allocated over five years to the precision-psychiatry project-program PROPSY, led by Inserm and CNRS as part of the Priority Research and Resources Programs (PEPRs). With this ambitious research program centered around four of the most incapacitating psychiatric disorders, the two institutes aim to develop precision psychiatry in order to revolutionize both their diagnosis and patient care.

Led jointly by Inserm and CNRS, the project will involve partners whose competences are both renowned and complementary, such as Fondation FondaMental, CEA, Sorbonne Université, Université de Bordeaux, Université de Lille, Université de Paris, and Université Paris Est Créteil.

Psychiatric illnesses constitute a major public health problem, affecting 20 % of French people on a daily basis – and very often their loved ones. Developing early in life, these illnesses often strike young adults and are sadly linked to a 10-to-20-year reduction in life expectancy. In response to the diagnoses – that are sometimes long in coming – the therapeutic options are often thin on the ground, with those that are available having incapacitating side effects. Not to mention the considerable socioeconomic impact, with recent estimations putting the direct and indirect costs at 160 billion euros in 2019 – representing over 5 % of GDP.

Faced with these two observations, it would appear imperative to improve the coordination of France’s psychiatry research forces and increase the research-care continuum. These are the proposals of PROPSY, a project led by Inserm and CNRS which has recently been selected to receive 80-million-euro funding over five years.

Centered around four of the most incapacitating disorders, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorders, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorders, this exploratory PEPR will broaden the field of precision medicine in psychiatry.

This will make it possible to provide each patient with the best care. In order to achieve this ambition, the multiple challenges will be to:

  • Better understand the causes and mechanisms behind mental illnesses
  • Discover prognostic markers for these disorders and identify homogenous patient subgroups
  • Develop targeted therapeutic strategies that include eHealth, immunomodulators, brain stimulation, and biotherapies
  • Reduce stigma and false representations
  • Support the development of a French biomedical sector in mental health, including pharma, MedTech and digital, through public-private partnerships
  • Create a new generation of scientists and medical staff in psychiatry by renewing the approach to these illnesses and thanks to training initiatives

Selected as part of the call for Priority Research and Resources Programs, PROPSY will include the funding of projects already identified – such as the French Minds longitudinal cohort of 3 000 adult patients who will undergo exhaustive clinical, behavioral, and environmental evaluation with the help of digital tools, biological markers, and brain imaging – as well as open calls for proposals.

We are proud that the government has selected our research program,” confide Gilles Bloch, Inserm CEO and Marion Leboyer, 2021 Inserm Grand Prize recipient, Executive Director of the FondaMental foundation and project scientific lead. “With the negative impact of the health crisis on mental health (an over 30 % increase in cases of depression), this extremely important decision represents hope for millions of patients, their families, as well as researchers and medical staff. “


With the benefit of better support for patients, the PROPSY PEPR will enable research and patient care to join forces to meet the public health challenges related to psychiatric disorders,” adds Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO of CNRS.

Lancement de la campagne de recherche participative Science à la Pelle : trouver des médicaments sous nos pieds

La Guinée et la France renforcent leur coopération à travers la création d’une plateforme de recherche internationale (PRISME)

InScience 2022: An Inserm Festival

InScience 2022

The scientific culture event is back for its second edition. © Anne Defreville/Inserm


“Cultivate your health with Inserm! ” InScience is back from June 1-15, 2022, with numerous events in which you can meet and talk to our researchers. In cities across France, discover our exhibitions, participate in escape games, conferences, film-debates… Not to mention online videos and podcasts, accessible to everyone, everywhere. The objective of this event? Give citizens the keys to play an active role in their own health and participate in debates in line with Inserm’s motto:  “Science for health.”

InScience is a unique event in France in the field of medical research and human health. This scientific culture event is the fruit of significant mobilization by Inserm researchers who, keen to share high-quality and reliable information, wish to promote scientific discourse and show the general public what their roles involve.

Coming to a city near you

For this second edition, Inserm scientists are delighted to be able to reach out to the general public across France, thanks to this packed program.


Here is a glimpse of what we have lined up:

  • In Toulouse, as part of an original and friendly get-together at Eurêkafé, called “Du charabia au limpide”, Inserm researchers will face the challenge of presenting their research project in 180 seconds[1] using language that can be understood by many people as possible.
  • In Lyon, scientists working on multiple sclerosis will present the advances made by research into this autoimmune disease, in the presence of patient associations[2].
  • In Paris, come and attend a conference led by Inserm scientists on the subject of endocrine disruptors. Where do they come from? What can we do to protect ourselves?[3] These questions will all be addressed in an educational way, helping the public to gain a deeper understanding of this complex subject.
  • In Lille, Bastia, and Rennes, discover the video game ViRal and be transported inside the human body thanks to virtual reality.
  • And then in Strasbourg, Inserm will present its book “Fake news santé” and the efforts made to fight health misinformation thanks to the mobilization of researchers since the start of COVID-19[4].

Part of the program will also be dedicated to emerging viruses. In a novel exhibition, Inserm will revisit the major epidemics of the past, the lives of viruses, the weapons our body uses to fight them, and the various measures taken by scientists to combat the epidemics they cause. This exhibition will be held in Mulhouse[5] until June 30 and is also accessible in digital format.

Other original activities include: an escape game in Nantes[6] in which you are locked inside a laboratory with a team of scientists, one of whom has kidney failure and needs help. Or the sound installation hEARt[7], an evolving musical journey in which each heartbeat resonates as a poetic element. This composition by Christophe Ruetsch, produced in collaboration with artists, technicians, and scientists, will be held in the cities of Toulouse and Corte.

InScience 2022 will also be available in digital format with a comprehensive program of online conferences, podcasts, plus unprecedented videos, such as the “Science dans tous les sens” series, presented by an Inserm researcher in Montpellier, and aimed at discovering the senses. Online visitors can immerse themselves in Inserm’s universe of fundamental and applied research into subjects as varied and topical as women’s health[8] and post-traumatic stress disorder[9].  

Consult the entire program on the Inserm website and dedicated Facebook page.


[1] June 2, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Eurêkafé in Toulouse

[2] June 8, from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. at Lyon City Hall

[3] June 2, at 7 p.m. at the Benoite Groult library in Paris 14th

[4] June 2, at 7 p.m. at the MAIF Etoile Space in Strasbourg and broadcast to all MAIF centers in France

[5] At La Nef des Sciences association in Mulhouse

[6] June 4, at the Librairie Ludique Portails bookstore in Nantes

[7] June 9-12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eurêkafé in Toulouse – June 1-5 at the Corte Citadel

[8] June 14, at 7.30 p.m. on the Inserm YouTube channel

[9] June 15, at 6.00 p.m. on the Inserm YouTube channel

Signature d’un accord cadre entre Santé publique France et l’Inserm

New joint Declaration of Intent between the Quebec Health Research Fund and Inserm

© Scott GrahamUnsplash


Rémi Quirion, Quebec’s Chief Scientist, and Dr. Gilles Bloch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), are pleased to announce the signing of a new joint Declaration of Intent between the Quebec Health Research Fund and Inserm.

Covering the next four years, this declaration renews an institutional partnership spanning over half a century.

It affirms the partners’ shared determination to pursue joint collaborative activities – including support for research projects, the development of consortia and networks, and support for the mobility of students and researchers. The emphasis will be on three scientific areas of mutual interest, representing major challenges for society:

  • Mental health
  • Public health
  • Aging

“The agreement strengthens a position that we have supported for a long time: the importance of international collaborations for the advancement of knowledge and the training of researchers. In that sense, Inserm has been a long-standing partner of the Quebec Research Fund in the development of health research. As we intensify the pooling of our scientific expertise, we will increase the impact of our research for the wellbeing of our populations. “

Rémi Quirion, Quebec’s Chief Scientist


“The renewal of our historic partnership is a testament to the strength and vitality of the relationship between our researchers and the Quebec community. This agreement will further strengthen our links in major fields, in line with Inserm’s national priorities, with a strong impact expected on both the scientific and societal levels.”

Dr. Gilles Bloch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Inserm

La tenue d’un colloque à l’IHU intitulé « Premier bilan des connaissances et des controverses scientifiques… » interpelle, les membres fondateurs se mobilisent


Signature du premier contrat d’objectifs de moyens et de performance entre l’Inserm et l’État

Signing of the Contract of Objectives, Means and Performance between the French State and Inserm on February 4, 2022, in the presence of Frédérique Vidal – Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Olivier Véran – Minister of Solidarity and Health, and Gilles Bloch – Inserm CEO. © Inserm

A new impetus for health biology research.” This is the ambition of Inserm’s Contract of Objectives, Means and Performance signed on Friday, February 4, 2022 by Frédérique Vidal – Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Olivier Véran – Minister of Solidarity and Health, and Gilles Bloch – Inserm CEO.

This contract consolidates a shared vision of biomedical research and more particularly of Inserm’s roadmap for the coming years, as well as the commitment to make it a reality. It falls within the scope of Inserm’s missions and the strategic orientations defined by its supervisory bodies – particularly the research programming law, the national health strategy, and the “France 2030” investment plan.

At the event, Gilles Bloch was keen to thank the ministers “for their continued confidence in Inserm, emphasizing that this new contract gives Inserm the means to sustain its ambition of research excellence serving innovation and health for all citizens. “

Due to its size, broad spectrum of activities and renowned expertise, Inserm plays a pivotal role in structuring and guiding French biomedical research, in conjunction with its ministerial supervisory bodies in research and health. Its activity makes Inserm Europe’s leading public institution in the field of health research. The challenges at stake in this contract between the State and Inserm are to produce world-class science, cultivate fertile ground for future major biomedical discoveries, and best serve the health of all citizens.

The ambition of Inserm’s Contract of Objectives, Means and Performance falls in line with the priorities of France’s research programming law (LPR).

It also reflects the priority given to public health and prevention and shares the same objectives as the research component of the national health strategy, whether in terms of knowledge development, support of medical, technological and organizational innovations, or the acceleration of digital innovation.

Finally, this contract reflects Inserm’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan in operational terms and sets out the following four priorities, with which it associates actions and resources:

  1. Reinforce the health research continuum while promoting disruptive research
  2. Increase Inserm’s ability to implement its choices in synergy with its public and private partners, in France, Europe and internationally
  3. More effectively support laboratories by revamping the human resources policy and simplifying administrative procedures
  4. Speed up the development of open, responsible science and reinforce the role of health sciences in our society

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the importance of responsive and coordinated research across the entire biomedical research and public health continuum – which has been a priority of Inserm since its creation. It has also showed the need to strengthen our country’s research over the long term to guarantee its sovereignty and international competitiveness.

Paris Saclay Cancer Cluster : une ambition mondiale pour l’oncologie française.

Inserm 2021 Prizes: Science More Mobilized Than Ever to Serve Health

Prix Inserm 2021

© Inserm


In this year 2021, still marked by COVID-19, Inserm’s workers have remained mobilized to advance biomedical research and pursue their efforts across all areas of health research. To honor this collective endeavor, Inserm has awarded its 2021 Prizes to five people whose quality of work bears witness to the scientific excellence of the Institute’s research. “By shining the spotlight on its talents, Inserm intends to show the diversity and richness of the biomedical research professions, as well as the tireless creativity and passion of the women and men whose achievements contribute to the Institute’s scientific excellence – for the benefit of society and, of course, for everyone’s health,” praises its CEO Gilles Bloch.

The Inserm 2021 Grand Prize has been awarded to psychiatrist and researcher Marion Leboyer, who has dedicated her career to improving the understanding and treatment of mental illness. This Grand Prize rewards the innovative nature of her research, particularly in bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorders.

Marion Leboyer, Inserm Grand Prize

   Marion Leboyer, Grand Prix Inserm 2021

©Inserm/François Guénet

Marion Leboyer is head of the Translational Neuropsychiatry laboratory in Créteil (Unit 955 Inserm/Université Paris-Est Créteil). She has dedicated her professional life to researching mental illness – innovative work that has greatly contributed to improving the treatment of people suffering from schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorders and autism spectrum disorders, with the ever-present goal of developing personalized therapeutic approaches for each patient.

In 2007, she created the FondaMental foundation, which supports her laboratory with conducting its research. Her team is behind the discovery of several genes involved in various mental disorders and has helped demonstrate the cost of mental health in France. Leboyer’s team has also been heavily involved in providing support to patients during the COVID-19 epidemic, by setting up CovidÉcoute followed by Écoute Étudiants Île-de-France – digital platforms dedicated to psychological support and listening.


Pierre-Louis Tharaux, Research Prize

©Inserm/François Guénet

Twenty-five years ago, nephrologist Pierre-Louis Tharaux set himself the challenge of helping to bring kidney failure out of its therapeutic dead-end. Now a researcher at the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center (Unit 970 Inserm/Université de Paris), he is on the way to success with an innovative approach and a first treatment being trialed in patients: progress that has been rewarded by the Research Prize.


Laurent Fleury, Opecst-Science and Society Prize

Laurent Fleury, Prix Science et société-Opecst 2021

©Inserm/François Guénet

Together with the Collective Expert Review structure that he has led since 2016, Laurent Fleury is at the interface between science and society taking stock of scientific knowledge on a health subject at a given moment in time. The objective is twofold: aid political decision-making and inform citizens. These expert reviews and the value created from them have earned him the Opecst-Science and Society Prize.

Ana Zarubica, Research Support Prize

Ana Zarubica, Prix Appui à la recherche 2021

©Inserm/François Guénet

Ana Zarubica plays a coordinating role at the Center for Immunophenomics in Marseille (Service Unit 12 Inserm/CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université). Her objective: ensure optimal organization of this unit that offers scientists around the world mouse models for use in researching immune system function and dysfunction. An investment that has been recognized by the Research Support Prize.

Francine Behar-Cohen, Innovation Prize

Francine Behar-Cohen, Prix Innovation2021

©Inserm/François Guénet

Francine Behar-Cohen is an ophthalmic surgeon, researcher at Cordeliers Research Center in Paris (Unit 1138 Inserm/Sorbonne Université/Université de Paris), and founder of the start-up Eyevensys, specialized in treating eye diseases with gene therapy. Her greatest wish is for her discoveries to leave her laboratory and benefit patients as quickly as possible. Her research and the value created from it have earned her the Innovation Prize.