The new Presidential Council for Science


The creation of the new Presidential Council for Science was announced by the French President Emmanuel Macron on December 7th 2023. This body is intended to act as a link between the government and the research world. Several of the new Council's members are from the CNRS or have links with the organisation.

On Thursday December 7th 2023, the President of the French Republic announced the creation of a 'Presidential Science Council' made up of twelve high-level scientists representing all disciplines. Emmanuel Macron presented his "vision for the future of French research" to an audience of 300 scientists and presidents of national research organisations and universities. Mr Macron explained that the aim of this new permanent Council will be to "fully position science at the core of our decisions" in the same way as the previous Scientific Council that supported the government during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis. This structure will have "freedom of speech and methods" and will meet "at least once every quarter of the year". Its missions will be to keep the President informed on "the emerging issues we need to be aware of, to alert us to dysfunctional issues, to try to construct new projects and develop breakthrough projects independently of public policies".

The announcement of this new Presidential Council follows on from the Gillet report, submitted to the French Minister for Higher Education and Research in June 2023. The aim of the report's fourteen proposals (French link) was to maintain "France's leading role in the international research and innovation landscape" and called for the creation of a "high-level science adviser". The idea of this was to "ensure the permanent representation of science at the highest level of government" and thus "clarify the organisation of French research and innovation strategy and policy at governmental level".

The government has therefore decided to implement the collegial representation of science within the new Presidential Council. The new body includes four researchers from the CNRS and other scientists from units under the joint supervisory authority of the organisation. Antoine Petit, the CNRS Chairman and CEO, is delighted "to see CNRS so well represented in this new advisory structure at the highest level of the State".

The Council's members include four CNRS research professors - the physicist Alain Aspect who was awarded the 2005 CNRS gold medal and of course the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2022; Sandra Lavorel, an ecologist who was awarded the 2023 CNRS gold medal; Claire Mathieu who won the CNRS silver medal in 2019; and Pascale Senellart, a physicist who won the CNRS silver medal in 2014. The other members of the Council are Jean Tirole, the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Economics, professor at the Toulouse School of Economics and the winner of the 2007 CNRS gold medal; Professor Fabrice André, a renowned oncologist and a research professor who has worked at the Gustave-Roussy Institute since 2020; Professor José-Alain Sahel, an ophthalmologist who won the 2012 CNRS innovation medal; Aude Bernheim, a microbiology researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm); Hugo Duminil-Copin, a mathematician who won the 2022 Fields Medal - the highest prize in his discipline; Pierre-Paul Zalio, the President of the Campus Condorcet since 2022 and a professor of sociology awarded the 2003 CNRS bronze medal; Lucien Bely, a historian and member of the Institut de France and the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences; and finally, Claudine Tiercelin, a philosopher and also a member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

Fabrice André

Fabrice André is a hospital doctor, a professor at Paris-Saclay University and the medical-scientific director of the Gustave Roussy Institute. Here he directs an Inserm unit working on the development of targeted cancer therapies, particularly for breast cancer. He is a world-reputed specialist in the field of metastatic breast cancer.

Alain Aspect

Alain Aspect is a CNRS Emeritus Research Professor at the Laboratoire Charles Fabry1 . Following his CNRS Gold Medal in 2005 he was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on quantum entanglement which paved the way for the development of quantum technologies.

  • 1CNRS / Institut d'Optique Graduate School.

Lucien Bély

Lucien Bély is a professor of modern history at Sorbonne Université and the Roland Mousnier Centre1 . He studied at the École Normale Supérieure, obtaining an agrégation in history and also a doctor of literature. He now specialises in the political, social and cultural history of diplomacy and peace and more broadly the history of international relations in the 17th and 18th centuries. Lucien Bély is the honorary president of the Association des historiens modernistes des universités françaises and a member of the History and Geography section of the Institut de France's Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

  • 1CNRS / Sorbonne Université.

Aude Bernheim

Aude Bernheim is a researcher at the Inserm who specialises in microbiology and genetics combined with a strong commitment to associative work. This young researcher's work focuses on finding similarities between the immunity of bacteria and that of human beings and she also works to eliminate differences in the treatment of men and women in science. She won an ERC grant in 2021 and directs a G5 Track group at the Institut Pasteur.

Hugo Duminil-Copin

Hugo Duminil-Copin is a French mathematician who specialises in probability and won the 2022 Fields Medal. He works at the Alexander Grothendieck Laboratory1 and was appointed as a permanent professor at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES) in 2016.

  • 1CNRS / IHES.

Sandra Lavorel

Sandra Lavorel is a CNRS ecology researcher at the Grenoble Alpine Ecology Laboratory1 . Her work focuses on how ecosystems function and the services these provide to humans. She has also studied the effects of climate change on a wide range of ecosystems and regularly provides scientific support for French regional planning policies. Her research work was rewarded by the 2023 CNRS gold medal.

  • 1CNRS / Université Grenoble Alpes / Université Savoie Mont Blanc.

José-Alain Sahel

José-Alain Sahel is a university professor and a hospital practitioner in ophthalmology at Sorbonne University. His pioneering work on artificial retina and eye regeneration therapies is internationally renowned. He founded the Institut de la Vision1 in Paris which has become a world leader in vision restoration along with several companies. He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences and was awarded the 2012 CNRS innovation medal. He currently directs the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

  • 1CNRS / Sorbonne Université / Inserm.

Pascale Senellart

Pascale Senellart is a research professor at the CNRS Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology1 . She joined the CNRS in 2002 and works on the development of optical components for quantum information processing. Her research was rewarded with the 2014 CNRS silver medal. Pascale Senellart also won the 2021 Grand Prix Mergier Bourdeix awarded by the Academy of Sciences while the following year she was elected to the Academy of Sciences and made an Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite. In 2017, Pascale Senellart jointly set up the Quandela start-up which markets the unique photon sources she designs.

  • 1CNRS / Université Paris-Saclay.

Claudine Tiercelin

Claudine Tiercelin is a professor at the Collège de France where she has held the Metaphysics and Philosophy of Knowledge chair since 2010. She has an agrégation in philosophy, having studied at the École Normale Supérieure and Paris IV, Berkeley and Paris I universities. Following a period as a secondary school teacher, Claudine Tiercelin worked as an assistant at the University of Rouen, a lecturer at Paris I University and a professor at the Universities of Tours and Paris-XII (Créteil). From 2000 to 2003, she was the chair of the jury for internal and external philosophy agrégations. She has also taught in other countries, most notably at Fordham University (New York) in 2006 and 2007.

Her work focuses on three themes which have always been closely correlated - Charles Sanders Peirce and the pragmatist legacy in philosophy, metaphysics and the philosophy of knowledge.

Claudine Tiercelin is an honorary senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France, a member of the Institut Jean Nicod1 and of the Academia Europaea (since 2012). She is an Officier of the Légion d'Honneur and of the Ordre National du Mérite. She was elected to the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in 2017.

  • 1CNRS / ENS – PSL / EHESS.

Jean Tirole

Jean Tirole is the Honorary President of the Toulouse School of Economics, the Scientific Director of TSE-Partenariat in Toulouse and a founding member of Toulouse's Institute for Advanced Study. He is also a visiting professor at MIT and a member of the Institut de France. His research focuses on industrial organisation, regulations, organisational theory, game theory, finance, macroeconomics and psychology. Jean Tirole has published over 200 articles in international journals along with 12 books including 2016's 'Economics for the Common Good' for the general public. He has been awarded many international distinctions including the 2007 CNRS Gold Medal and the 2014 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel.

Pierre-Paul Zalio

Pierre-Paul Zalio has been the President of Campus Condorcet for the humanities and social sciences since 2022. He studied at the Cachan École Normale Supérieure, obtaining an agrégation in social sciences and a sociology PhD. He is a professor of sociology at the Paris-Saclay École Normale Supérieure which he directed from 2012 to 2022, leading the institution through a complex and ambitious merger process which paved the way for the creation of Paris-Saclay University. His research at the Institutions and Historical Dynamics of Economics and Society (IDHES)1 focuses on subjects like the main families of employers in Marseille, the figure of the entrepreneur and the dynamics underpinning the transformation of the wage-earning society. Pierre-Paul Zalio was awarded the 2003 CNRS bronze medal, is an honorary member of the Institut Universitaire de France and was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in 2015.

  • 1CNRS / ENS Paris-Saclay / Université Évry - Val d'Essonne / Université Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne / Université Paris Nanterre / Université Vincennes-Saint-Denis.