The Q-Life Institute

Q-Life Institut Convergences, coordinated by Bruno Goud, comprises more than 70 teams from various PSL institutions. Its missions are to build and develop models capable of predicting the way a biological system will operate.

The enormous progress made in recent decades in life sciences research has drastically transformed our ambitions to understand how life works. We are now able to analyze biological processes in quantitative terms at multiple levels and make predictions about the functioning of biological systems. The development of quantitative biology thrives on interactions between experimental biologists and physicists, chemists, computational biologists and theorists. The theoretical concepts underlying quantitative biology are, among others: active networks, driven thermal ratchets, robustness and modularity in biological networks, self-organization and criticality, information and optimal coding, genetic drift and genetic draft, etc. Theorists can also examine how a given biological function could be achieved. By defining the systems at stake, this offers a completely different perspective on many known processes and helps shed a unique light on old problems, leading to innovative experiments.

Despite the recent scientific progress, we are still facing major challenges to understand, model and predict human health in order to deal with diseases, to develop reasoned agronomic approaches, to conceive the implementation of new sectors of energy production or to predict natural diversity and sustainability. The founding of the Q-Life Institute will help us tackle these challenges through a multi-scale quantitative biology approach. The Institute fits perfectly in the French national research strategy on the multi-scale analysis of diversity and evolution of life, which aims to characterize all living things at different levels using mathematics, physics, chemistry and life sciences. It also addresses one of the five major challenges defined by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research, about Systems Biology and its applications.

The Q-Life Institute’s ambition is to become a world leading center for research, innovation and learning on multi-level quantitative biology. Stanford University’s Bio-X Institute can be cited as a key benchmark for our project.

PSL is already a leading force in all scientific fields necessary to push multi-level quantitative biology to another level. The teams involved in the Q-Life Institute work at the Institut Curie, the École normale supérieure (ENS), the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de Paris (ESPCI), the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique (IBPC), the Collège de France, MINES ParisTech and Chimie ParisTech (École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie). Most of these teams work with CNRS and Inserm, and the project is also supported by Inria. The strong interdisciplinary cooperation within PSL has already led to major scientific discoveries and the creation of innovative start-ups. About 110 teams that participate or could participate in the project have already been identified. The Institute also builds on PSL’s interdisciplinary education programs covering life sciences, cognitive sciences, physics, chemistry, geosciences, mathematics, computer sciences and engineering.

The Q-Life Institute’s missions are to:

  • Support highly innovative research addressing scientific and socio-economic challenges related to the multi-level analysis of biological systems;
  • Strengthen the socio-economic impact of this research by accelerating the innovation value chain  ;
  • Train future leaders who are able to navigate across multiple disciplines and methodologies, supplying the researchers with the necessary skill set to make an impact in science and innovation in the Institute’s field of study.

The Institute will become an innovative institution consisting of three building blocks:

  • A methodological platform to ensure sound identification, selection and management of interdisciplinary projects. This will include three types of support: 1) Methodological assistance and mentoring to help PSL researchers generate interdisciplinary projects building on innovative ideas; 2) Seed funds for projects which represent high stakes and would have difficulties to obtain other funding; 3) Support to project consolidation, outreach and applications for external funding.
  • A recruitment strategy based on innovative and collaborative culture to attract top researchers. This comprises three main dimensions: 1) An interdisciplinary education offer through research intensive dual degree programs; 2) Developing transversal skills of students and researchers through specific workshops; 3) Fostering a venture culture among students and researchers by providing opportunities for dialogue   and showcasing innovative ideas. In order to attract top talents at an international level, the Institute will provide Master’s fellowships, PhD grants and postdoc grants to the best foreign candidates.
  • An outreach strategy to strengthen interdisciplinary networks within PSL and beyond. This strategy will combine events such as conferences and “ideas festivals” and targeted communication to develop Q-Life’s visibility. The Institute will also support start-ups founded by its researchers by financing research engineers to work on the development and testing of innovative technologies.


Q-Life is a Major PSL Research Program. Coordinated by Bruno Goud (CNRS - Institut Curie) Q-Life encompasses 11 Schools, Institutes and Reasearch Centers within Université PSL (Collège de France, École normale supérieure, Curie Institute, MINES ParisTech, Chimie ParisTech, ESPCI Paris, Institut Pasteur, CNRS, Inserm and Inria), as well as 6 Laboratories of excellence and 2 Equipex laboratories (CelTisPhyBio, DCBiol, Deep, Memolife, Wifi, IPGG, Ultrabrain, IPGG).