Provence: an exceptional hub for research


A Major Scientific Research Hub

Marseilles is France’s second largest center for scientific research, in particular public and academic research. The city has more than 80 laboratories run by French government-funded research organizations (CNRS, INSERM, universities, joint research institutes etc.) covering a broad range of disciplines in medical research and life sciences.

The primary areas of excellence are:

-   Genetics, immunology & oncology

-   Microbiology

-   Infectious diseases

-   Neurosciences

-   Nutrition & metabolism

-   Bioinformatics

-   Clinical trials

 Major laboratories include:

-   The Marseille-Luminy Center for Immunology (Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille Luminy - CIML);

-   The Marseille-Luminy Institute of Developmental Biology (Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille Luminy - IBDML);

-   The Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology (Institut Méditerranéen de Neurobiologie - INMED);

-   The Marseille Institute of Cancerology and Immunology (Institut de Cancérologie et d’Immunologie de Marseille);

-   The Institut Fédératif de Recherches 48 (IFR48): Infectiopôle, du Malade à la Molécule (IDMM): This Marseilles-based body brings together teams of researchers working in the fields of infectious and tropical diseases, including the New Infectious and Tropical Diseases Research Unit (URMITE), set up and headed by Prof. Didier RAOULT;

-   The AFMB (Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques) structural biology laboratory at Luminy.


Abundant Hospital Resources for Clinical Trials:

-   The Marseille Public Hospitals Authority (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille - AP-HM) operates a major hospital complex with four hospitals providing more than 3500 beds and a workforce of 14,000 including 1800 doctors;


- The Paoli-Calmette Institute is the second-largest cancer center in France and one of four registered research and evaluation centers for gene therapy;


- The Center for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutic Trials (Centre de Pharmacologie Clinique et d’Essais Thérapeutiques - CPCET) was founded by the AP-HM and the Université de la Méditerranée to partner pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The center is in permanent contact with the French Health Products Safety Agency (Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Produits de Santé - AFSSAPS) and provides expertise in clinical and pre-clinical research and drug evaluation. The CPCET acts as the coordinating body for multi-center trials.


 - CoReBio PACA is a collective structure that acts as a support organization for life sciences research hubs and is open to the entire scientific community in the region.

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Canceropôle (Cancer Center)

Further to a national campaign to fight cancer, launched in 2003, seven regional cancer centers were selected for certification, among them the Canceropôle Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The center brings together 53 research teams from the PACA region from the National Health and Medical Research Institute (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - INSERM), the National Scientific Research Center (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS), universities and hospitals.

The main purpose of the Canceropôle is to bring together and structure all the regional expertise and resources in order to optimize research in the areas of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The Canceropôle has set up three "tumorothèques" (tumor banks) containing more than 11,000 samples. These tumor samples are collected and stored to provide researchers with resources to better understand the molecular mechanisms of cancer and identify new biomarkers in oncology.


The Marseilles-Luminy Center for Immunology (Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy - CIML)

The CIML, a joint research unit attached to the CNRS, INSERM and the Université de la Méditerranée was established in 1976 and is one of the 10 largest immunology centers in the world.

The Center for Immunology employs more than 230 persons in its 20 research teams, administrative, technical and scientific departments (imaging, proteomics, transgenesis laboratory...), the latter hosting technical facilities specializing in microscopy (including the PICsL platform – Luminy Shared Imaging Platform -  set up in association with the IBDML – Marseilles-Luminy Institute of Developmental Biology), biophotonics (MOSAIC platform in collaboration with the Institut Fresnel) and mouse functional genomics (Marseilles-Nice-Génopôle RIO-certified platform).

The Center for Immunology teams’ main areas of research are key biological processes such as ontogeny, lymphocyte cell activation, phagocytosis, host-pathogen interactions, and cell death.

Right from the start, the CMIL has had a unique organization, very different to that of more classic French research institutes, with:

-   federated research teams of a limited size and duration;

-   directors appointed for a four-year term, renewable only once;

-   the pooling of most resources to promote synergies and large-scale cost saving;

-   a policy of hiring foreign researchers (eight of the 20 team leaders are from overseas);

-   close links with universities and hospitals;

-   four companies originating from the work undertaken by CIML researchers: Immunotech, Innate Pharma, IPSOGEN, and Oz Bioscience. In December 2010, the CIML signed a research cooperation agreement with Sanofi-Aventis and Aviesan. The significant three-year partnership focuses on immunology in the field of inflammatory diseases of the skin and intestines.


Grand Luminy Technopôle

Located in the south of Marseille, the Grand Luminy Technopôle technology park provides a strong link between public research and industry. A number of research centers are located in Luminy:

The Marseilles-Luminy Center for Immunology (Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy)

-   230 researchers, engineers, students and technicians;

-   The Center ranks among the world’s top 10 immunology centers.


The Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology (Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée -INMED)

-   40 researchers in neurobiology and brain diseases.

The Marseilles-Luminy Institute of Developmental Biology (Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille LuminyIBDML)

-   6 training courses in research and hospital services;

-   20 research teams with over 200 staff.


Marseille-Nice Génopôle

-   25 laboratories specializing in basic and applied research in genomics and post-genomics.

In addition, Grand Luminy Technopôle provides attractive set-up facilities at any stage of a company’s development.

Its incubator, managed by the Association Grand Luminy Technopôle, is home to a number of recent biotech start-ups. For more established companies, the business hotel offers laboratory and modular office space (from 170 to 1000 sq. m.). For larger companies, Luminy is now developing more extensive areas for buildings of between 1500 and 5000 sq. m.