INSB Institute of Biological Sciences

Deciphering the complexity of life

The CNRS Institute of Biological Sciences is a key player in all areas of life sciences research in France. The Institute promotes basic research at all levels of organization of life. The resulting fundamental knowledge is then put to use in fields including biomedicine, biotechnology and ecology, providing answers to societal issues and to major health problems.

Fields of research

From microorganisms to humans and from the structure of molecules to the physiology of organisms, INSB's laboratories cover every field of research in biology:

  • structural and molecular biology;
  • organization and expression of the genome;
  • cell biology, development and evolution;
  • microbiology, immunology and host-pathogen interactions;
  • plant biology;
  • neurosciences and cognition;
  • physiology and pharmacology.

Strategic priorities

INSB's mission is to improve understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of life, combining excellence with scientific innovation. The Institute therefore promotes high-quality basic research that maintains expertise in every key field.

Together with its partners, INSB makes use of the fundamental knowledge obtained by its laboratories in the fields of biomedicine, biotechnologies and ecology in order to meet the challenges posed by sustainable development and major public health problems such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, ageing, drug addiction and inflammatory and infectious diseases. This knowledge will also help to make the best possible use of terrestrial and aquatic plant biomass, with the aim of satisfying new food, health and societal needs.

INSB identifies promising young researchers and helps them fulfill their potential, in particular through the ATIP/Avenir program, which enables the best of them to set up their own teams.


The new challenges facing biology require active and innovative research in interaction with other disciplines.

INSB laboratories therefore work closely with other CNRS institutes in various fields such as biomathematics, modeling and simulation, bioinformatics and image analysis, biophysics and biomaterials and the development of novel therapeutic compounds. Other areas of active collaboration include bioengineering and medical imaging, artificial intelligence, human and animal ethology, Earth and marine sciences, biodiversity, ecology and the environment.

INSB has developed the PEPS (Pluridisciplinary Exploratory Projects) program, thereby providing support for instance for therapeutic innovation and novel interactions at the biology/mathematics/computer science and biology/chemistry interfaces.

International and national presence

INSB plays a major role in life sciences research in France. Together with its partners in the French National Alliance for Life Sciences and Health (Aviesan), the Institute coordinates and shapes France's national research policy in this field.

The Institute provides leadership for the implementation of joint technological platforms and supports the development of large academic sites, while actively backing the laureates of the Investments for the Future program.

INSB is firmly committed to the European Research Area and to international cooperation. The Institute helps its researchers in their international collaborations through about a hundred structural initiatives, mainly with industrialized and emerging countries.

Key figures

  • 5 978 researchers and academics, including 2 259 from CNRS, 4 735 engineers and technicians, including 2 310 from CNRS, and 3 286 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows*
  • 211 research and service units and 39 research federations*
  • 20 research and 1 service networks*
  • 1 international joint unit, 29 international associated laboratories, 57 international programs for scientific cooperation and 11 international research networks
  • 1 036 patent families

*Source: Labintel, 31/12/2011 – processed by CNRS / SAP2S