Around technological platforms
Around technological platforms containing all the most modern tools in the technological race, allowing to remain competitive at the level of the world research in infectious diseases, 5 research units (UMR) are grouped in the IHU:
• Microbes, Evolution, Phylogeny and Infection (MEPHI ; Pr. M. Drancourt)
• Vectors – Tropical and Mediterranean Infections (VITROME ; Pr. P. Parola)
• Economics & Social Sciences of Health & Medical Information Processing (SESSTIM ; Pr. R. Giorgi)
• Emergence of Viral Pathologies (PEV ; Pr. X. de Lamballerie)
The research laboratories have benefited from major investments that since 2011 have enabled the purchase of equipment worth 35 million euros. We have a platform of molecular biology, culture / NSB3, genomic sequencing, proteomics (functional analysis of proteins), lyophilization, microscopy, cytometry, bioinformatics, bio-bank, an insectarium and a veterinary center. The largest laboratory for handling highly pathogenic microbes (of 1200 m2), which guarantees the protection of the manipulator and the environment, has also been created. In this context, the Army Health Service is developing its research and monitoring, to promote military research excellence, carried out in partnership with civil research.
One of our most important achievements is the establishment of a strategy for studying the repertoire of all human microbes. It has allowed, since the creation of the IHU 5 years ago, to discover 30% of microbes found, at least once in humans, since the dawn of humanity as evidenced by the Latin names that have have been given to these new species of bacteria, “massiliense” or “massiliensis” in reference to the city of Marseille, “timonensis” or “timonense” in reference to the hospital timone or “Bouchedurhonensis” in reference to the department. These bacteria names have become the most common given to bacteria in the world, as shown in the picture below. Regarding viruses, EPV has isolated more than 300 viruses and identified 14 species of virus from arthropods and has the largest collection of arboviruses in the world with the presence of 466 strains. MEPHI teams are continuing the research started by URMITE in the field of amoeba viruses, of which 4 families have been discovered in the IHU and could play a role in human pathology.
We were the first in the world to describe giant viruses: 138 of them were isolated in our laboratory and the genome of 108 giant viruses was sequenced. With VITROME, vector-borne diseases and their vector arthropods (such as mosquitoes, ticks, lice, fleas, …), zoonoses, and parasitic diseases are at the heart of research based on technology and observation. The research activities also include a department of Humanities and Social Sciences to analyze the experience and social representations of the disease, prevention behaviors, care work, economic issues of disease and health care, an area of increased performance through cross-fertilization of researchers from different backgrounds.