The governance of the IHU-A-ICM

The project is led by Frédéric Salat-Baroux, President of the IHU-A-ICM, Professor Alexis Brice, General Manager of IHU-A-ICM, Alberto Bacci, Scientific Director, Professor Jean-Yves Delattre, Medical Director, and Anne Bellod, General Secretary.
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Message from Frédéric Salat-Baroux, President of the IHU-A ICM

What is the mission of the IHU-A-ICM ?

The IHU-A-ICM’s mission is to lead a project of excellence in terms of care, training and technology transfer in research on diseases of the nervous system. Its priority is to promote the development of preventive, diagnostic, or therapeutic innovating products and processes.

2015 was the year of mid-term evaluation for the IHU-A-ICM, what are the achievements of these three years of existence ?

The achievements of these three years of existence are extremely positive. They have enabled the development of a world-wide research in the area of diseases of the nervous system, neurology and psychiatry, the creation of cutting-edge technology platforms, the implementation of research partnerships with manufacturers, the training of future health professionals, and the transfer of care from hospital to the patients’ home

Could you give us examples of major projects led by the IHU-A-ICM ?

The IHU-A-ICM has been involved in the development and implementation of large-scale clinical trials thanks to its participation in the national, European and international networks of different diseases. We can especially mention the INSIGHT study in partnership with Pfizer, an innovative study on Alzheimer’s disease, one of the first in the world to follow healthy at risk subjects, carrying great expectations in terms of understanding the disease. The ICEBERG cohort is at the center of the IHU’s Parkinson clinical project, which aims to study predictive factors of conversion and progression of Parkinson’s disease.

We are pursuing major projects that are important to us about Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and multiple sclerosis to identify therapeutic strategies for myelin repair, epilepsy to understand and anticipate seizures and behaviour disorders involved in many neurological pathologies, largely through the Prism platform implementation.

What progress has been made in health care ?

In terms of care, the IHU-A-ICM has shown spectacular progress with the creation of the Behavioural Neuropsychiatric Unit. In order to better understand the origin and mechanisms of these disorders and provide therapeutic solutions, neurologists, psychiatrists and researchers work hand in hand within this unit. The dialogue between neurologists and psychiatrists allows to take better care of patients, to offer them better diagnosis and appropriate therapeutic solutions.

What are the scientific priorities of the IHU-A-ICM ?

We have identified various areas for which we wish to strengthen our action : neuroimmunology, stem cells, molecular biology and systems biology, as well as modelling and biostatistics. Our interdisciplinary scientific strategy is based on our very powerful technological tools, from big data to high-resolution imaging through optogenetics, electrophysiology and brain-machine interfaces.

In 2015, the IHU-A-ICM has launched the first edition of its summer school,  » Brain-to-Market « , can you elaborate on that ?

Organized by the IHU-A-ICM and the Engineering College,  » The Brain-to-Market has brought together scientists and engineers to enable them to share their knowledge and produce a common project. The theme chosen for this first edition was Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The participants benefited from the intervention of researchers and MS specialists, but also from professionals from companies and startups such as Sanofi, Genzyme, Ad Scientiam, or even Brain e-Novation, companies incubated at the ICM. Guided by a coach, the participants have created in multi-disciplinary teams, a project responding to pathology problems with a high valuable potential. These projects have been evaluated by a jury of experts and a feasibility study is currently being conducted for some of them. This Summer School, true meeting place to create a long term network, and innovative project catalyst, is a real success and the first of many more to come.

What are the three major achievements of the IHU-A-ICM in 2015 ?

Our achievements are significant, for example, the Big Brain Theory, a call for a joint project between the ICM and the IHU-A-ICM which enabled the emergence and support of fifteen innovative and original cross-cutting projects.

The arrival of the PET-MRI, first clinical and research mixed equipment on a French site, which will contribute both to research on neuro-degenerative diseases and the improvement of health care. This innovative imaging technique improves diagnostic performance, enables to follow the development of lesions in the brain, and test drug efficiency. Its acquisition was made possible through an exceptional fundraising in collaboration with two of its founding members, the AP-HP and the Foundation for Research on Alzheimer’s.

A rapprochement and strengthening of the collaboration with the ICM via the establishment of an administrative department, a technology transfer office and a common scientific council.

What is your insight for the future ?

Our ambition is to become a translational research institute, the essential link between fundamental and clinical research, international leader in the field of neuroscience. We want to transform our discoveries into practical applications to meet the patients’ and medical staff’s needs, for this purpose, the iPEPS business incubator and the living lab are two major assets. We find ourselves at the heart of a strong collaborative network established with five neuroscience leading institutions, theSorbonne Université, AP-HP, INSERM, CNRS, and the FRA (Foundation for Research on Alzheimer’s). Through these multiple institutional and industrial collaborations, we use all means to better prevent and cure diseases of the nervous system.


You have just been appointed ICM medical director and you are director of the nervous system diseases center at the Pitié-Salpêtrière, what would you wish to develop with your new function ?

The nervous system diseases center (MSN) brings together the services of Neurology, Psychiatry, follow-up Care and rehabilitation, as well as the services of Neurophysiology and Neuropathology of the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital group. It represents a significant care strength, with nearly 500 beds, more than 1000 officers and almost 250 doctors.

My key objective is that the MSN center, a major university hospital, and the ICM, combine their expertise at the service of clinical research and therapeutic innovation. It is a unique opportunity for our patients and our country. As far as I am concerned, it is the absolute priority.

To what extent does your daily practice of medicine influence your research ?

Daily contact with the suffering and dying changes our vision of research. On the one hand, research is a source of hope for the patient and for us. It is perfectly justified to believe it ! Who would have said, a short time ago, that immunotherapy, after decades of failure, would revolutionise the management of some of the most terrible cancers ? Who would have said that thrombectomy, after a long phase of development, was to establish itself as a major advancement in the management of some strokes ? We could thus multiply examples. On the other hand, for the doctor, good research is the one helping his patient ! For us there is no hierarchy in research. We need brains to understand and develop, but we have just as much need for brains to develop and conduct accurate clinical trials. If one of these components is missing, there is no breakthrough for the patient.

Should you remember three events for 2015, what would they be ?

I would remember only one being above my interest topics : the solidarity of the nation around the values of the republic. The incredible force driving us when we are united !

What are your hopes for 2016 ?

Obtaining approval to build a new building « Paul Castaigne » which will bring together all Neurology units of the Pitié-Salpêtrière, and collectively benefit from this large project to redesign our organisations by associating more closely medical care and clinical research with the patient’s bed.

Allow the center’s paramedical and medical teams to better recognise themselves in the ICM. This is « our ICM » !

What is your insight for the future ? According to you, what will tomorrow’s medicine consist in ?

Predictive and « tailor made » in fully informed patients and decision-makers. Medicine has always progressed by identifying different entities being accessible to different therapies in what appeared, at the beginning, as a common framework. There is no reason to change this.

I also think that the voice of patients will be stronger and listened to, including when it will be necessary, facing incurable and debilitating disease, to decide the future.