Published on 15 October 2018

Plant sciences now have their own university research school (École Universitaire de Recherche, or EUR) on the Paris-Saclay campus. Stemming from the LabEx SPS, the Paris-Saclay research network in plant biology set up in 2011, this project of a graduate school à la française was selected to be part of the 2017 Future Investment Program.

"The Saclay Plant Sciences - Graduate School of Research (EUR SPS-GSR) relies on the SPS LabEx," said Loïc Lepiniec, Director of Research at the Jean-Pierre Bourgin Institute (IJPB), Coordinator of LabEx SPS and now of EUR SPS-GSR, during the school's opening conference on October 3rd, 2018. "It brings together not only the various plant research endeavors of Paris-Saclay, but also the education resources intended for master's and engineering school students who follow our courses and for all new interns and doctoral students in various SPS laboratories."

More than 100 projects of various scales (up to 500,000 EUR) have been financed since the launch of Labex SPS in 2011, which itself accounts for 12 million euros over 10 years. LabEx credits have been renewed and allocated to the Graduate School of Research. Over the next 10 years, a total of 16 million euros will be devoted to actions related to research, infrastructure and innovation, and above all to plant biology courses at Paris-Saclay. These actions will lead to notably more extensive, international and attractive courses on themes that are the building blocks of SPS's excellence, therefore meeting the main objectives of the 2017 PIA/EUR call for projects.* This will involve simplifying the Master in Plant Sciences program to create a unique curriculum for both years of the degree program (current courses for the second year will be maintained, and new first-year courses will start at the beginning of the 2019 academic year). It will also involve offering more courses in English and maintaining the summer schools initiated under the LabEx (the next summer school is planned for 2019). These summer schools "have proven to lead to the development of new themes, and contribute to the attractiveness of our laboratories among young researchers," Lepiniec said. Teacher-researchers will be given the means and tools necessary to invest in student training.

Meanwhile, the Saclay Plant Sciences network will also place a strong focus on two projects: the establishment of a biocomputing/bioanalysis platform and the emergence of a specific theme on specialized metabolites.

Saclay Plant Sciences: facts and figures

- The school focuses on research themes with major implications in today's society: agriculture, food, nutrition, plant biomass use, health, and the environment

- It ranks in the top 10 plant science publications worldwide.

- 700 individuals:

  • 50 research teams
  • 180 researchers and teacher-researchers
  • Around 100 doctoral students
  • 70 master's students complete internships in the laboratories every year

- The teams come from 5 laboratories:

  • Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin (IJPB)
  • Paris-Saclay Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS2)
  • Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell (I2BC)
  • Quantitative Genetics and Evolution (GQE - Le Moulon)
  • Biology and Risk Management in Agriculture (BIOGER)

- The plant sciences curriculum:

  • Master in Plant Sciences (year 1 and 2)
  • Plant Sciences Doctoral School
  • 140 students per year in a plant-related curriculum, including 60 in master's degree programs and 80 in engineering schools

* Objectives of the 2017 Graduate School for Research call for projects

  • Contributing to the international influence and attractiveness of France through a vector with international visibility (graduate schools). This involves building strategic international partnerships, attracting the best students and post-doctoral fellows, etc.
  • Strengthening the links between training and research by federating universities, schools and research institutions around the same dynamic.
  • Reinforcing the major themes of institutions and sites, regardless of their size and the disciplines involved.
  • Providing a long-term integration framework and, where appropriate, longer-term perspectives for actions funded under the PIA, or for projects labelled and funded in other contexts.

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