Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

A Star for the galaxy EpiGeneSys!

Awarded by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research, the "Stars of Europe" prize rewards project coordinators for their European work. This year, the Special Jury Prize was awarded to the EpiGeneSys Network of Excellence. Thierry Mandon, Secretary of State for Higher Education, presented the Trophées des Etoiles de l'Europe to Geneviève Almouzni, Director of the Research Center of Institut Curie and coordinator of the network on 5 December 2016 at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

A European Network

Beyond the DNA sequence, epigenetic information contributes to the control of gene expression. This level of plastic regulation offers many avenues for our understanding of the mechanisms involved in development and levers of action for pathological situations.

In order to address these issues at a quantitative level, it was essential to link actors in the fields of epigenetics and systems biology. Started in 2010 and closed on 31 March 2016, EpiGeneSys has created a strong link between these two areas of excellence in Europe by bringing together more than 160 laboratories. An original scientific community has thus been built.

Building bridges between disciplines

EpiGeneSys has significantly advanced the understanding of the interactions between the genome and the epigenome. More than 350 publications, numerous conferences, workshops and training activities, fruitful collaborations and a privileged environment for the development of young teams represent the major actions of EpiGeneSys.

This network provided a dynamic and interdisciplinary framework to establish synergies between different fields of research and between researchers with very different fields of expertise. Geneviève Almouzni is enthusiastic: "The implementation of these bridges between disciplines is essential in the 21st century to meet the current scientific challenges in biology in general and in the field of epigenetics in particular. The research laboratories in the area of ​​development, cancer, genetics and epigenetics of the Institut Curie have been particularly involved in sharing this interdisciplinary, open and constructive approach offered by the network.

One of the original approaches of EpiGeneSys has also been to have create bridges between the worlds of science and art. Edith Heard, Professor at the Collège de France and Director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Unit (CNRS / Inserm / Institut Curie), emphasizes: "Engaging the general public in recent advances in the field of epigenetics was a real challenge. Our young artists in connection with the researchers have succeeded in meeting them. "

The future

EpiGeneSys formed the basis for a new CNRS International Research partnership coordinated by France and Germany, but also for the elaboration of a proposal for a European programme investigating the cell nucleus in four dimensions (4D Nucleome in Europe) aiming to decipher the structure-function relationships of the nucleus of a cell as a complex biological system.