Interdisciplinary Cancer Research Institute in Lille – overview

The scientific objective of this project is to answer to two critical questions in translational oncology: resistance to loco-regional treatments and tumor dormancy. The path taken for this was to put in the same environment (one institute), clinicians, biologists, chemists, microtechnologists & HSS researchers, to develop together inter(pluri)disciplinary research programs.

 Positioning of the project

In 2012, Lille was one of the eight sites selected by the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) as a «Comprehensive Cancer Center»: the SIRIC ONCOLille ( The aim of the SIRIC project was to drive for 5 years interdisciplinary research programs in translational oncology. Hence, Lille has been chosen to develop two original projects on 1/ tumor resistance and 2/ tumor dormancy. A major asset for the success of ONCOLille was to benefit from the close connection to an academic hospital. In fact, the university hospital of Lille (CHRU) and the clinical cancer center of Lille (Centre Oscar Lambret : COL), which are located on the same campus and physically connected, attract a potential population of more than 5 million inhabitants. Due to new genomic sub-classifications of most of the cancer types, the great number of patients available is becoming a discriminant advantage to perform efficient clinical trials (academic or industrial). These clinical studies are conducted in close collaborations with academic research teams, which develop fundamental and translational research in oncology.

However, although the clinical research of Lille is concentrated on the hospital campus, fundamental and translational research is split on four campuses : the hospital campus, the Pasteur Institute of Lille campus, the Sciences & Technologies campus, and the Human & Social Sciences campus. Based for example on the development of the cancer research centers in Marseille and Lyon, the fundamental, translational and clinical oncology researchers wished to merge their teams in a same environment. This is the main reason why in 2014 Lille decided to apply to a 6 year call of proposal launched by the Hauts-de-France region and the French government : “the CPER” program. In 2015, this 35 M€ project was selected and financially supported by the University of Lille, the CHRU, the COL, Inserm, CNRS, the Lille cancer research foundation (IRCL), the Pasteur Institute of Lille, the French State, the Hauts-de-France region and the city of Lille (MEL).

Joining the cancer research forces in biology, health technologies, micro-technologies and human social sciences will then give birth to a unique multi-disciplinary center able to compete with the best institutes in the World. To differentiate, it will highlight among others:

  • its two original research programs developed by ONCOLille,
  • its expertise in translational medicine and tumor genomics,
  • its unique collaboration with a cancer veterinary clinics located in Lille (OncoVet),
  • the unique opportunities to develop micro-technologies (BioMEMS program),
  • its unique expertise in laser therapies assisted by image of oncology,
  • its capacity to construct original experimental models,
  • and its expertise in measuring emotion and behavior in relationship to cancer.

Many teams of this project are already involved in national and European networks in biology (Marie Curie European Network “Ion Trac” 2012-2015 ; Labex « Therapeutic approaches in ion channels ; CIP European project : Phosistos, ; GDR Photomed : or microtechnologies (EUJO-LIMMS : http://limmshp.iis.u-

The creation of this interdisciplinary institute should offer the following positive benefits:

  • A strong partnership with private companies:
    • Current partnerships exist with industries such as Merck Serono, BMS, GSK, Roche, Cellgene, Servier, Pierre Fabre, Biomérieux, Deka, Karl Storz, Aquilab, Steba Biotechnologies…).
    • A close partnership with Oncovet Clinical Research (OCR) will be a discriminant asset to design clinical trials in dog and cat in order to test new targeted drugs.
  • An exemplary structuration of research in biology and innovating technologies.
  • An interdisciplinary opening at the heart of the project. Synergic effects will be obtained by gathering complementary competences in one institute. Moreover, at the scientific level common projects will very rapidly emerge.
  • Valorization of research by top-level publications. Hence since 2010, the number of publications for the biology and health technology teams is about 600; 100 for the LIMMS team and 50 for the HSS teams. The present project will permit to pursue and enrich this publication promotion through interdisciplinary research projects.
  • Valorization through patents, licensing and start-up creation. The last 6 years, the teams involved in the project have filled patents that led to the sale of licences to companies and start-ups like Nanosen ; XProchem ; TuDor Biotechnologies; Immune- Insight, SenCet… The teams of the future institute have thus demonstrated their wish and capacity to create innovating companies in the fields of diagnosis, therapeutics and micro- technologies. They will pursue this through:
    • Marketing of textile device for photodynamic therapy;
    • LIMMS / CNRS-IIS technology transfer for the detection of reactions on DNA filaments and cell biomechanics.
    • Enhancement of devices combining microfluidics and micro-chambers to develop useful tools for cell sorting; cell-cell interactions, drug screening, HTS and analysis of epigenomics and proteomics.

 IRICL Teams

The teams listed below are invited to apply to join the future institute (teams web site and contacts are available here):

  • Team 1 : UMR1172 (ULDS, Inserm) – Bruno QUESNEL
  • Team 2
  : UMR1172 (ULDS, Inserm) – Isabelle VAN SEUNINGEN
  • Team 3
  : U1189 (ULDS, Inserm) – Serge MORDON
  • Team 4
  : U908 (ULST, Inserm)– Xuefen LE BOURHIS
  • Team 5
  : U1003 (ULST, Inserm) – Natalia PREVARSKAYA
  • Team 6  
: U1192 (ULST, Inserm) – Michel SALZET
  • Team 7  
  • Team 8  
: UMR8161 (ULDS, ULST, IPL, CNRS) – Dominique LEPRINCE
  • Team 9   : UMR8161 (ULDS, ULST, IPL, CNRS) – Fabrice SONCIN
  • Team 10 : UMR8161 (ULDS, ULST, IPL, CNRS) – David TULASNE
  • Team 11 : UMR8161 (ULDS, ULST, IPL, CNRS) – Nadira DELHEM
  • Team 13 : UMR1019 (ULDS, ULST, IPL, Inserm, CNRS) – Mathias CHAMAILLARD
  • Team 14 : UMR9193 (ULSHS, CNRS) – Veronique CHRISTOPHE

  • Team 15 : UMR9221 (ULDS, ULST, ULSHS, CNRS) – Sophie DABO

  • Team 16 : EA2694 (ULDS) – Alain DUHAMEL

  • Team 17 : UMI 2820 (CNRS, IIS) – Dominique COLLARD

  • Team 18 : UMI 2820 (CNRS, IIS) – Yukiko MATSUNAGA

  • Team 19 : UMI 2820 (CNRS, IIS) – Teru OKITSU

The Interdisciplinary Cancer Research Institute of Lille

The future institute will be located between the CHRU and the COL, and will be physically connected to these two hospitals. It will be in very close vicinity to the other research centers, such as the JPARC and the European Genomics Institute for Diabetes (EGID). This location will thus permit intense interactions with other disciplines.

The project currently plans the following premises : 45% of laboratories and technical rooms, 35% of offices and related functions, and 20% of lobby and other shared premises. Technical and storage areas will be pooled in order to gain space for productive activity. The project will focus on creating, on the ground floor, reception areas for researchers and clinicians and promoting serendipity through connections between the reception hall, the cafeteria and the conference room. The layout of the offices and laboratories will also facilitate exchanges between teams and disciplines.

The building project is estimated worth 25 M€, which will be funded by the French Ministry of Education and Research (6.5 M€), the Hauts-de-France Region (5 M€), the University of Lille (5 M€), the CHRU (5 M€), Inserm (2.5 M€) and the “Métropole Européenne de Lille” (1 M€).

In 2016, a consulting office proposed the pre-project coordinated by the University of Lille. January the 27th, 2017, it was submitted and accepted by the participating institutions. After the selection of an architectural firm, the plans of this 7500 square meter building will be designed in 2017 in order to start its construction mid-2018. This should lead to an inauguration of the Institute beginning 2020.

Governance of the project

Steering Committee

The steering committee is composed of the representatives of the various institutions that finance the project. They will meet at least three times per year and will take all the decisions concerning the financing as well as the governance of the future institute.

Executive Committee

The executive committee will follow the advancement of the scientific part of this project and will be at the interface between the researchers and the University of Lille for the optimization of the installation of the teams in the future institute. It is composed of :

  • Bruno Quesnel, Professor of hematology at the University of Lille and at the CHRU and responsible of the “Dormancy” program of ONCOLille.
  • Dominique Collard, Research Director at the CNRS and head of the SMMIL-E program.
  • Yvan de Launoit, Research Director at the CNRS and President of the Canceropôle Nord- 

Scientific Advisory Board

In 2017 and 2018, this scientific advisory Board (SAB) will meet two times per year in order to offer to the future institute its great experience. It will also audition the pre-selected PI candidates, which will develop a topic in close collaboration with the current existing teams. 
The SAB is composed of the following members:

  • Ron APTE, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Shev – Israel
  • Yoshinobu BABA, University of Nagoya – Japan
  • Paolo COMOGLIO, Istituto di Candiolo – Milan – Italy
  • François FUKS, Faculty of Medicine – ULB – Brussels – Belgium
  • Heinrich KOVAR, St Anna Cancer Research Center – Vienna – Austria
  • Frédéric LEMAIGRE, de Duve Institute – UCL – Brussels – Belgium
  • Giovanni MARTINELLI University of Bologna – Italy
  • Isabelle MERCKAERT, Jules Bordet Institute, ULB – Brussels – Belgium
  • Françoise MEUNIER, EORTC – Europe
  • Alain PUISIEUX, Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Lyon – France
  • Albrecht SCHWAB, Westfälische Wilhelms – University of Münster – Germany
  • Roland ZENGERLE, IMTEK – University of Freiburg – Germany