Creating models to predict and improve the performance of living systems (plants, bacteria).


Unmasking the complexity of living beings and the world that surrounds us

Modelling living beings

The IMSV project consists first of grouping all individuals working within the Université Paris-Saclay around the modelling of living systems based on interdisciplinarity among biology, bio-informatics, mathematics and physics.

The goal is to create a Living Systems Modelling Institute (Institut de Modélisation des Systèmes Vivants - IMSV) within the Université Paris-Saclay, in the medium term. The means will be devoted to the priority of creating a reduced number of interdisciplinary programs that contribute to advancement on issues concerning cell modelling and the modelling of organisms.

Representing and simulating the phenomena of the living being

The Living Being is a complex system. It is not reduced to the sum of a multitude of constituent heterogeneous elements (genes, cells, bacteria, etc.), but draws its complexity from the interactions among these elements in the creation of a biological function.

Furthermore, biological systems evolve over time and are characterized by great variability. The purpose of this study is, therefore, never perfectly defined or perfectly reproducible. On the other hand, there are few “laws” in biology and many exceptions. The current challenge is to be able to integrate considerable masses of data that are both complementary (so-called horizontal integration) and overlapping (so-called vertical integration) in order to construct models and represent and simulate biological phenomena at all the levels of the living being.

The objectives of this transdisciplinary research are expressed both in the area of human health and that of feeding the world population.

  • In the first case, one example is being able to set up functioning models of the bacteria that protect us or expose us to certain pathologies.
  • In the second, a better understanding of plant biology would contribute to improving predictions of the impact of climate changes, for example.

The IMSV advantages

Health, agriculture, food, environment, all the research fields related to the Living Being, are involved in modelling.

The IMSV project was designed to mobilise and set up a dynamic between mathematicians, computer engineers and biologists coming from the best local teams.

  • A wide array of communities in biology, chemistry, information science and mathematics in order to integrate the knowledge produced at all levels of the organisation of life, for purposes of prediction
  • A wide range of applications: agriculture, therapeutics of living systems (plants, animals, humans), and environmental sciences
  • A total of 88 research teams within the facilities of the Université Paris-Saclay

The creation of an artificial cell in 2010 put modelling and engineering of living beings at the centre of the upheavals of the 21st century. In view of such challenges, research conducted at IMSV will also benefit from the university’s structuring projects: the BASC laboratories (ecosystems), DigiCosme (information sciences and technologies), Hadamard (mathematics), Lasips (engineering sciences), Lermit (pharmacology) and SPS (plant science) or even I2BC (cell biology).



The challenge of a better understanding of plant biology is major; it covers essential problems such as food and the environment. The ever greater world population in an uncertain climate context, and their impact on agriculture and on the environment are also seen to demand more and more energy, requiring an energy transition. The latter will also depend on the creation of improved plant varieties. Within this context, the priority is to improve the predictions of the impact climate changes have on agriculture and, more generally, on the environment. That should also make it possible to determine practices that are more respectful of the environment and compatible with sustainable development. What is involved here is identifying the nature of the constraints, elements and organised biological mechanisms to organise the response of the plant to all of the environmental constraints.