Scientific and medical strategy

The ICM is an innovative and ambitious pilot project that offers more than 700 researchers, clinicians, engineers, technicians and support personnel a setting that is unique world-wide.
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THE AMBITIONS OF THE Institut du Cerveau – ICM

  • Become one of the foremost European neuroscience institutes (excellence);
  • Attract the best researchers internationally, in particular in translational neuroscience (attractiveness);
  • Contribute to technological innovation and its applications;
  • Have a strong impact on the prevention and treatment of nervous system diseases;
  • Become a model a public-private partnership;
  • Create a training site that is unique, attractive, international, and opened to society.

Understand the function and dysfunction of the nervous system is a major challenge for research in neuroscience. The nervous system (more particularly the brain) is a very complex system. It is composed of a large number of heterogeneous entities that interact on different scales of spatial (molecular, cellular, intercellular networks, organs, organism, environment…) and temporal (from the millisecond to the year) organization to create structures and collective behaviours that cannot be reduced to the individual behaviours of its constitutive elements.

Understanding the mechanisms of the brain and its pathologies needs the capacity (instrumental and organizational) to acquire pertinent data at each level of organization, analyse them, and correlate them with information obtained at lower or higher levels of complexity. This requires solving several technological and methodological problems. Progress in the exploration of the function/dysfunction of the brain depends, then, on a capacity to develop interactions between biologists/clinicians and other disciplines: engineering, chemistry, physics, informatics and mathematics. Furthermore, the attrition rates of treatments for the nervous system are very high, and a study of the Tuft Center for the Study of Drug Development, in Boston, recently showed that, on the one hand, the development of a pharmacological agent and its marketing have reached a record mean cost of 2.8 billion dollars and, on the other hand, the time needed for the clinical development of approved treatments for nervous system diseases was a mean 18% longer than for molecules developed to treat other pathologies.

Finally, ageing of the population and an increasing prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases have incited developed countries to invest massively to understand and fight against the diseases of the nervous system with medical objectives that include prevention, pre-emption and personalisation.

To meet these challenges, it is necessary for the Institut du Cerveau – ICM to support creative high-risk and ground- breaking approaches that will transform research on the nervous system.

The Institut du Cerveau – ICM has numerous assets and represents a unique opportunity. The Institute brings together, in the same place, a critical mass of well-integrated, talented clinicians and researchers (35% of PIs are clinician-researchers). The Institute profits from productive translational research reinforced by the program of the IHU and the Clinical Investigation Centre. The diversity of the participants offers pluridisciplinary expertise that responds to the challenge of understanding the nervous system. The Institut du Cerveau – ICM has very well equipped core facilities and expert personnel. The Institut du Cerveau – ICM has a strong influence internationally, notably through the research consortia in which its teams participate, and increasing visibility. The presence in the Institut du Cerveau – ICM of the incubator iPEPS infuses an entrepreneurial spirit that diffuses among the teams.


The Institute hosts 25 teams and is structured around 4 major fields of research.


Understanding human behaviour and cognitive processes – including the physiopathological mechanisms underlying neurological and psychiatric disorders – requires knowledge of how neuronal networks function globally in the brain. This important information adds to the genetic, molecular and cellular analyses of the functions of the brain and its diseases. For this reason, the Cognitive Neurosciences propose, as their basis, a group of experimental methods associating behavioural and clinical signs with neurophysiological measures and brain stimulation to study brain networks in healthy humans, neuropsychiatric patients and animal models. Institut du Cerveau – ICM researchers use these approaches to identify new functional markers of normal and abnormal behaviour and cognition. This is an essential domain for the development of personalized medicine, thanks to a better characterization of the diseases at the behavioural and cognitive levels, achieved by quantifying the efficacy of treatments according to their functional consequences and by establishing the indispensible links among genes, brain functioning and behaviour.





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