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© J.-M. Monthiers/Brunet Saunier Architecture

The new Institut de la vision, in Paris.

An Institute with a Vision
The Institut de la vision, a research center specialized in eye diseases, has recently opened its doors in Paris, headed by Professor José Sahel.1 With its 6000 m2 premises at the Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts, the center welcomed its first researchers and companies this past February. “The aim of this new institute is to unite research on visual disorders, particularly those that affect the retina, and to establish direct links with innovative companies that will be based on site,” explains Serge Picaud, an institute scientist. Some twelve INSERM and CNRS teams, complementing additional teams from other French and foreign agencies, will be pursuing their work on the development of sight, the transmission of visual information, the genetics of ocular diseases, and the design of therapeutic strategies. Research teams will benefit from pooled technical resources, such as the imaging and screening platforms based in Strasbourg. Companies based in the institute will also have access to these facilities. “Our aim is to create a true synergy between academic research and industry, so that our work can generate clinical applications,” says Picaud. Essilor, Mauna Kea Technologies (a start-up specialized in imaging) and Fovea Pharmaceuticals have already expressed their intention to set up research and development (R&D) laboratories on site. Exchanges between fundamental and applied research will be facilitated by the Clinical Investigation Center, which will handle the human testing necessary to develop novel treatments. With support from different foundations, as well as private and public sector funds, the institute is an excellent example of collaboration between academic and private sector research.
Fabrice Demarthon

1. José Sahel is chairman at both the National Ophthalmology Center at the Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts and the A. de Rothschild Ophthalmology Foundation. He also heads the team Physiopathologie cellulaire et moléculaire de la rétine (Inserm).
CONTACTS: Institut de la vision, Paris.
José Sahel,
Serge Picaud,

A New Foundation for Biodiversity
On February 26th, 2008, the French government inaugurated the Scientific Foundation for Biodiversity (Fondation scientifique pour la biodiversité). It arose from France’s Environment Round Table (Grenelle de l’Environnement)1 which met in 2007 to set a course of action to promote sustainable development and ecology.
Alongside climate change, a loss of biodiversity constitutes a major environmental threat to humanity. Scientists worldwide have observed that 60% of the world’s ecosystems have been damaged, though the services they render remain essential to our development and future. The purpose of this new foundation will be to coordinate research and provide information to the general public, by combining efforts from public research agencies, environmental NGOs, and industry.
The foundation is organized around three bodies: a strategic orientation committee, acting as an interface between academic research, industry, and civil society; a management board made up of representatives from the principal founding institutions, including CNRS; and a scientific advisory committee, composed of 20 leading biodiversity specialists from France and abroad, which will influence policy direction and draw up an annual action plan.
The foundation will be financed in part by the institutions that created it (€2.7 million over the next four years), and in part by the French government, which will endow it with an annual budget of €831,000 from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and €500,000 for 2008 from the Ministry for Ecology and Sustainable Development.

> > New CNRS Department Heads
Bertrand Girard and Patrick Netter were nominated Scientific Directors of the MPPU 1 and Life Sciences CNRS departments respectively, as of April 1st. Girard directs the “Collisions, Aggregates, and Reactivity” laboratory, which he helped create, and is also a physics professor at the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. Netter is an MD specializing in articular pathologies. He directs the Articular and Physiopathology Unit (CNRS / Henri Poincaré University) in Nancy and was elected Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Nancy in 2003.
1. Mathématiques, physique, planète et univers.

>> 6th
is the ranking of CNRS online exposure, according to a new international study that ranks the most “visible” research institutions on the web. CNRS is the leading European research agency, preceded only by NASA and four other American institutions.


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