INRA - French National Institute of Agronomical Research

Launching of the Sciences & Animals Paris Saclay Institute


What types of animal selection should be used in farming in the coming years? How will the environment impact the phenotypes of animals and the expression of their genomes? How should new strategies for health be defined? Can appropriate and relevant models for prediction be developed? How are the biological systems of livestock and animal models for human health related? On February 12 2015, INRA launched the new Sciences & Animals Paris Saclay (SAPS) Institute, in collaboration with its partners: AgroParisTech, the National Veterinary School at Maisons-Alfort and ANSES. The institute includes about 600 people working in research, making it a major hub of international scale in animal biology, serving agriculture and health.

Seven INRA research units from southern Ile De France, in partnership with AgroParisTech, the National Veternary School at Maisons-Alfort, ANSES, and three experimental units, have joined together to form the Sciences & Animals Paris Saclay (SAPS) Institute, one of the exciting steps in the creation of the Paris-Saclay University. With over 600 people working in research and shared experimental resources, SAPS has the ambition of developing innovative multidisciplinary research, initiating new partnerships between the public sector and industry, reinforcing the opportunities for education in animal sciences, and encouraging relationships between the biology of livestock and that of model animals. Thus, the SAPS teams seek to contribute to the sustainability of farming systems and to progress in biomedicine in an evolving economic, social and environmental framework. The scientific approach, built around how animals are able to adapt to environmental variations, is based on four main projects:

Building phenotypes
This project is focused on the impact during developmental stages of maternal nutrition and the physico-chemical and emotional environment, along with breeding conditions, on growth, health, and fertility of progeny. The approach combines multi-scale phenotypic measures and is aimed at improving our knowledge of the mechanisms that are implicated through epigenetic, metabolic and transcriptomic analyses.

Selection in farms for tomorrow
How can we make selection more efficient for a sustainable production, while improving the prediction of results and preserving genetic diversity? The approach of this project is centered on exploring the variability of genomes and its transmission. One of our ambitions is to better define the interactions between the genetic heritage and the environment by studying the contribution of epigenetic mechanisms to the control of the expression of genes.

New strategies for animal and public health
These studies are aimed at improving immune competencies by associating research on the role of the microbiota (microbiome and pathobiome concepts), exploring species barrier transgression, searching for new vaccines (the flu, West Nile, bluetongue, foot-and-mouth disease, toxoplasmosis, a universal vaccine aimed at transmissible diseases by ticks, etc) and diagnosis and screening methods.

Prediction of phenotypes and adaptative responses
This project is based on systems biology approaches and modeling. Current research is creating a body of heterogeneous and multi-scale data (phenotypes, genotypes, transcripts, proteins, metabolites, etc), that must be integrated in order to understand the interactions and progress in the understanding of complex biological systems such as animals. One of our objectives is to improve the prediction of adaptative responses in order to identify new approaches for an improved management of the animal in its environment and promote the dialogue of scientists working in different fields (mathematics and biology, animal sciences, and ecology).

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