The François Jacob Institute of Biology brings together five departments and three services
The last two years in scientific news
The scientists at the Genoscope and the CNRGH respond to the high throughput sequencing and genotyping needs of the French scientific community as a whole. They therefore participate in the genome sequencing of many plant (orange tree, coffee bush, cacao tree, banana, rapeseed, wheat, etc.) and animal species (trout, mammoth, etc.). This is a crucial step towards progress in the field of agronomy, as well as in understanding evolution.
The Genoscope teams also contribute to the discovery of previously unknown microscopic organisms. Indeed, microbial diversity is poorly understood since certain microorganisms are impossible to isolate and cultivate. To study the biodiversity of an environment, the Genoscope teams resort to metagenomics. Enabled by the development of new sequencing technologies as well as by the increase in bioinformatics data processing capacities, this technique consists in sequencing the genome of all organisms in a sample from a given environment, all at once. This can include samples from a wastewater treatment plant, the oceans of the globe (Tara Oceans mission), or the intestinal flora of an individual. These studies make it possible to reconstruct the genomes of little-known organisms, to study the interdependence of these individuals within an ecosystem, and to increase our knowledge of biodiversity.
Studying and interpreting the genome of these organisms and their metabolism opens up a field of knowledge regarding the chemical reactions that they produce. Living organisms have the particularity of knowing how to synthesize molecules at room temperature and in neutral environments such as water. For this purpose, they are equipped with outstanding catalysts: enzymes, which are proteins that accelerate chemical reactions and guarantee their selectivity. The genomic analysis of biodiversity conducted at the Genoscope and a thorough understanding of the metabolism of these microorganisms helps to inventory these enzymes. Their functions are then tested to see if they can be involved in a clean-up process, or even to replace an industrial process that uses toxic products or that has low energy efficiency.
The teams of the CNRGH also contribute to research in the genetics and genomics of human diseases. Using DNA samples from large cohorts of volunteer patients, the researchers focus on genetic variations (i.e. the genome) and their expression (i.e. the transcriptome) as well as other transmissible traits (i.e. epigenetics), in order to better understand pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, rare diseases, and various cancers (breast, prostate, kidney, etc.). This body of research contributes to the development of personalized medicine, which takes into account the specificities of the pathology, the patient, and his or her reaction to the treatment.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.