PSL Research University

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Paris Sciences et Lettres
LogoPSLetoile rvb 90x35.png
Motto Sapere aude
Motto in English
Dare to know
Type Research and Higher Education Institution
Established April 2010
Endowment €1 billion
President Alain Fuchs
Academic staff
2 500
Students 14 000
Undergraduates 30%
Postgraduates 70 %
Location Paris, France
Campus Quartier latin

PSL Research University (L'université de recherche Paris Sciences et Lettres) is a collegiate university that is formed from 22 institutions of research and higher education in the Paris area and three national research organizations. It was originally formed in April 2010 as a pôle de recherche et d'enseignement supérieur (PRES) by five prominent French institutions: the École Normale Supérieure, the Collège de France, the Paris Observatory, Chimie ParisTech and ESPCI ParisTech.

PSL has known a significant growth in its membership, as new institutions adhered to it in the framework of scientific and academic co-operations: Curie Institute (Paris), Mines ParisTech, Paris-Dauphine University, CNSAD, Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, La Fémis, Fondation Pierre-Gilles de Gennes pour la recherche, IBPC-Fondation Edmond de Rothschild, Institut Louis Bachelier, Lycée Henri-IV, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, French Institute of Health and Medical Research, French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, Association Art et Recherche . One of the eight French "Excellence Initiatives", large-scale research and higher education projects chosen by an international cohort of experts, PSL received government approval in July 2010 and gained a legal status as an endowment.[1]

Creation and Goals[edit]

Collège de France, one leading college of PSL university

The project was presented in January 2011, in response to a tender of the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research for "Excellence Initiatives". This tender, which takes place within the framework of the "Investments for the Future" programme, launched by the French government, aims at overcoming the fragmentation of the French higher-education and research landscape and encouraging the formation of world-class universities. PSL* brings together 13 chartered institutions, located in Paris and the greater Paris area, and is represented by the Paris Sciences et Lettres - Quartier latin Foundation.

The creation of Paris Sciences et Lettres results from a joint initiative by leading scientific institutions, which share a common location at the very heart of Paris, France, in the so-called Latin Quarter. Those institutions, encompassing a broad academic scope, decided to join forces and embark upon a series of common projects. All institutions partaking to the project are involved in fundamental research in several fields, with cutting-edge specialists in mathematics, physics, chemical engineering, nature sciences, neurosciences and astronomy. Its name, which means "Sciences and Humanities", hints at the fact that PSL wants to push to the forefront contact points between "hard" and "soft" sciences.

Beyond its academic goals, PSL is equally committed to keep Paris downtown as a high place for scientific and student life. Its campus project is liable to give a new impulse Paris, with its three-fold location in the Latin Quarter, in the South of Paris and in the West. From this point of view, it runs counter with a general trend that tends to delocate campuses outside of Paris.

Following the Law on Higher Education and Research (France) the PRES form of PSL was discontinued, and in April 2015 was reformed as an association of universities and higher education institutions with the name "PSL Research University".[2]

Key figures
21 Nobel Prize laureates

10 Fields Medals

29 CNRS Gold medals

30 European Research Council Grants

40 Academies fellows

4 INSERM Grand Prizes

1 INRIA Grand Prize

Chartered institutions[edit]

Member institutions cover a wide academic field, ranging from astrophysics (Paris Observatory), to arts (Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique, École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs and École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts), as well as economics and management Paris Dauphine University , Institut Louis Bachelier , engineering (École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles de la ville de Paris, École nationale supérieure de chimie de Paris, MINES ParisTech), medical research (Curie Institute (Paris)). The project also includes the Fondation Pierre-Gilles de Gennes pour la recherche , named after the 1991 Nobel Prize laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes : this foundation is designed to develop links between scientists and the private sector, with a view to developing industrial and technological uses for fundamental research. Some commentators have considered the diversity of the stakeholders as a potential weakness, but PSL* proponents have rejected these claims and emphasized the great complementarity between partaking institutions.[3]

Paris-Dauphine University

Liste :

Founders Associates
Collège de France École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs
Chimie ParisTech École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts
École normale supérieure Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique
ESPCI ParisTech Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris
Curie Institute (Paris) Institut Louis Bachelier
MINES ParisTech Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Foundation
Observatoire de Paris Edmond de Rothschild Foundation
Paris Dauphine University Lycée Henri-IV
École des hautes études en sciences sociales
Ecole pratique des hautes études
Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient
École nationale des chartes
Institut Pasteur

Investments for the Future[edit]

Within the "Investments for the Future" programme, €21.9 billion are to be allocated to higher-education and research projects. PSL* was constituted as a way to pool forces and reap benefits from this programme, so as to promote its excellence science and training tradition. PSL* has answered almost all tenders organized by the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research, notably: the Excellence laboratories (Labex), the Excellence facilities (Equipex), the Carnot institutes, the Research & Technology Institutes (RTI) and the Vehicles for Technological Transfer Acceleration (VTTA). The results of these tenders are announced following different schedules since the end of January 2011.

One of the major projects PSL is currently engaged in is the "Investments for the Future" project, organized by the French ministry for Research [4] Webpage describing the main components of the "Investments for the Future". Endowed with a total of €21,9 billion, this initiative incentivizes major changes in French academic structures. From the very beginning, PSL has been a notable shareholder in the calls for projects. Up to know, it has made proposals for three flagships initiatives:

Excellence facilities (Equipex)[edit]

On January 20, 2011, the French minister for Higher Education and Research, Valérie Pécresse, unveiled the selected Equipex projects. The 52 laureates had been selected by an international committee, under chairmanship of the Canadian Philippe Le Prestre. The Equipex grants are intended to fund capital-intensive facilities for advanced scientific research, in all academic fields. The overall allotment for the Equipex is €340 million, of which €260 million is immediately usable and €80 million temporarily blocked as an endowment.[5] The selected projects will be awarded between 2 and 10 million euros.

PSL* institutions have obtained seven of the 10 Equipex they had applied for. They represent all academic fields, from humanities to life sciences and physics. Most of the time, scientists belonging to non-PSL* institutions have been associated to these projects. Conversely, PSL* scientists may use Equipex facilities supported by other institutions.[6] For PSL*, the selected projects are:

  • D-FIH (Database - Financial markets in History).
  • Equip@meso (Excellence facility for intensive computing of coordinated Mesocentres - Springboard towards petaflopic computing and exascale).
  • Planaqua (experimental facility for aquatic ecology).
  • ICGex (therapeutic use of genomic data applied to cancer treatment).
  • IPGG (Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Institute for microfluidics).
  • Paris-en-Resonance (world-class facility for magnetic resonance).
  • Ultrabrain (Cerebral therapy and neurostimulation through ultrasounds).
Prominent scientists within PSL* perimeter
2 Nobel Prize laureates

4 Fields Medals

4 CNRS Gold medals

30 European Research Council Grants

40 Academies fellows
  • "Excellence Equipments" (Equipex): Launched in 2010, the Equipex call for projects was devised to finance pioneering research equipment with an overall budget of around €1 billion. The results were published in late February 2010. Among the 52 Equipex selected, PSL has obtained 8 of the 10 projects it had presented.[7]

Excellence laboratories (Labex)[edit]

The results of the Excellence laboratories tender were published on March 25, 2011 by the French ministry for Higher Education and Research. Sometimes coupled with Excellence facilities, the Labex are to help promising research teams in all academic fields. Though some academics claimed that the Labex tender, as well as the Equipex one, had favoured hard sciences in comparison to social sciences and humanities, senior officials working for the "Investments for the Future" programme have absolutely denied it.[8]

PSL* institutions have obtained 11 Labex projects. Of this number, 6 projects directly supported by PSL* have been awarded a grant. Among those projects are the ENS-ICFP (physics), IEC (cognitive sciences), IPGGM (microfluidics), MemoLife (biology), TransferS (humanities and social sciences) and WIFI (wave physics). In addition to those awards, PSL* contributes to 5 national or regional Labex, through its member institutions: ESEP (astrophysics), FIRST-TF (frequencies), L-IPSL (climate modelling), OSE (economics), SMP (mathematics). PSL* institutions are also involved, on a freer basis, in many other selected Labex, such as the "Cultural industries and artistic creation" Labex, "Lifesenses", "UnivEarthS", "MiChem", "Matisse", and so on[9]

Observatoire de Paris

The tender for the Labex received harsh criticism, as a rumour spread that the French government had made a last-minute intervention to include laboratories led by leading scientists in the selection.[10] Among PSL* projects, only one project is said to have been saved thanks to this intervention, the Wifi Labex, supported by the physicist Mathias Fink.

The "Excellence initiative" Project[edit]

Beyond all those tenders, the PSL* "Excellence initiative" (Idex) project, submitted on January 7, 2011, encompasses a global growth strategy. PSL* partners have developed a strategy with 4-year and 10-year targets. On March 25, 2011, it was announced that the PSL* Idex belonged to the 7 short-listed projects. The final decision by the international committee in charge of the tender is to happen by the end of June[11]

The PSL* Idex lays the emphasis on the strong complementarity between member institutions. It asks for a €1.2 billion endowment out of a €7.7 billion nationwide allotment. Such an endowment would generate a yearly income amounting to €40 to 50 million. PSL*'s goal is to form a collegiate research university, merging all member institutions within a new entity. They would nonetheless retain their autonomy and identity as "colleges" of the new PSL* establishment. Such a merger would considerably improve the international rating of these institutions.[12] The project may consistently be considered as an answer to anxieties about the low visibility of French institutions in international rankings.


Promising initiatives include:

  • A renewed course offer with a selective undergraduate cycle, a strong emphasis on graduate education (5.000 out of the 8.000 PSL* students are graduate students), an elite curriculum in mathematics and computer science, an increased number of fellowships (including many international fellowships) for master, PhD and post-doc students, a new "Creative Arts PhD" combining artistic practice along with theoretical knowledge, ... Executive training is also on the agenda, with a focus on innovation management and contemporary scientific challenges.
  • New federal structures for research: Environment Institute, Chemical Institute, Centre for Humanities, Mathematics Institute. They will host French and international students.
  • An improved transfer activity towards companies.[14]
  • Knowledge dissemination through an internet website, building upon the experience PSL* institutions have gathered individually,[15] creation of a scientific and artistic museum...

"Excellence Initiatives" (Idex): The last part of the "Investments for the Future", it represents the most significant part of the financial means allotted, with more than €7,7 billion. PSL has presented an ambitious project named "On the Move", with a demanded endowment of €1,208 billion. The submitted project makes a case for several breakthrough initiatives in research and education.[16]

Ecole normale supérieure

Carnot Institutes[edit]

The second call for proposal of Carnot institutes enabled PSL* to reap 2 Carnot institute labels, while three projects had been submitted.[17] Those two institutes are:

The Carnot label aims at supporting joint research in financing partnerships between public laboratories and private actors. The label "Carnot Institute" is awarded for 4 years (on a renewable basis) to public research centers.[18]

Research & Technology Institutes[edit]

PSL* has applied for a Research and Technology Institute (RTI). This RTI will be focused on market finance and is supported by the Institut Louis Bachelier. It will concentrate on applied uses for mathematics in technical analysis. The results for this tender have not been revealed yet.

Vehicles for Technological Transfer Acceleration (VTTA)[edit]

The results for this tender are to be announced before June 2011.

Training at PSL[edit]

Thanks to its member institutions, PSL offers a complete education cycle, from undergraduate to doctoral level, across all academic disciplines, including life sciences, physical sciences, humanities and social sciences, creative arts, economics, administration and management.

All of PSL's institutions have adopted a model of education through research.

New study programs have so far been developed :

PSL's pluridisciplinary Undergraduate cycle[19][edit]

PSL and the Lycée Henri IV, along with Mines ParisTech, ESPCI ParisTech, Paris Dauphine University, Paris Observatory, Ecole normale supérieure and Lycée Louis-le-Grand have implemented an undergraduate program. The course combines:

  • the high Professor/student ratio and close supervision typical of French preparatory classes;
  • the emphasis on independent learning and the introduction to the world of research to be found at the best universities.

The multidisciplinary program allows students to increase their specialization during the three years of their training cycle, within one of three academic fields (humanities, social sciences or science). It emphasizes the use of new technologies and the importance of project work. The admissions procedure actively seeks to encourage candidates from a variety of backgrounds and academic profiles, as well as to promote social diversity. Alongside practical art courses and teaching in the history of art, the undergraduate program aims to give all students access to as broad a culture as possible. This undergraduate program aims to brings together universities and preparatory classes (CPGE) : it is not designed to replace preparatory classes.

Dauphine/PSL Undergraduate Programs[edit]

Université Paris-Dauphine

First and second years[edit]

For the first two years, the University Paris-Dauphine offers two diplomas equivalent to the first two years of undergraduate study: one majoring in Economics and Management (DEGEAD) and the other in Applied Mathematics and IT for Economics and Management (DUMI2E).

Third year[edit]

At Paris-Dauphine, a bachelor's degree is awarded to students who complete three years of study. Programs are organized into two disciplines: The bachelor's degree in Organization and Market Sciences (SOM) is open to students who have completed two years of study in Economics, Management and Social Science on the DGEAD course. The bachelor's degree in Mathematics and IT for Decision and Organization Sciences (MIDO) is open to students who have completed two years of study in Mathematics and IT on the DUMI2E course. Dauphine also awards professional degrees in Hotel Management and Tourism.

Mines ParisTech
ESPCI ParisTech

Institute of technology and Innovation (PSL-ITI)[20][edit]

PSL-ITI was conceived by four PSL institutes : three elite engineering schools (Chimie ParisTech, ESPCI ParisTech, Mines ParisTech) and the Ecole normale supérieure. PSL-ITI also relies on the Paris Dauphine University, Paris Observatory, Curie Institute, Paris Observatory, Collège de France, and École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. It enjoys an active partnership with the École des ponts ParisTech. PSL-ITI is a four-year doctoral program that includes : - Preparation for the doctorate One year dedicated to preparation for the doctorate embodying an unprecedented concept for the French academic landscape, which is completely focused on training at cross-disciplinary interfaces and courses in innovation and entrepreneurship. Students apply what they learn during this year to transform their academic work into a genuine force for industrial innovation.The Diplôme Supérieur de Recherche et d'Innovation (Higher Diploma in Research and Innovation) issued by PSL-ITI on completion of this pre-doctoral year is equivalent to an advanced master's degree and provides access for a PSL-ITI doctorate. - A doctoral program focused on innovation within a doctoral institute, currently being established, with dedicated doctoral financing. The program continues with thesis development conducted in partnership with one of PSL's cutting-edge laboratories, guaranteeing high-quality and original research. PSL-ITI is investing in the PhD program to make it a major asset for industrial innovation.

École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts

SACRe Doctorate[21][edit]

The project “Science Art Création Recherche” (SACRe) aims at developing a new field of research by exploring the interfaces between the arts, and between art and science (hard sciences as well as human and social sciences). It will implement a new kind of “Doctorate in Art” strongly articulating practice and theoretical thinking. It brings together, along with the Ecole normale supérieure, five French schools of creative and performing arts : CNSAD, Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, La Fémis. The other members of PSL, especially Collège de France, Chimie ParisTech, ESPCI ParisTech and Paris-Dauphine University, also participate.

Research at PSL[edit]

PSL boasts more than 100 laboratories, a 2.500-strong research and teaching staff, a strong student community at Master's and PhD level, 12 endowed research Institutes (Labex) and 8 cutting-edge scientific facilities (Equipex). Research at PSL covers all academic fields.

PSL Labex[edit]


International Centre for Fundamental Physics and its interfaces

The Physics department of the Ecole normale supérieure is a world leading centre of research and training in fundamental physics. The ENS-ICFP LABEX (“ENS - International Centre for Fundamental Physics and its interfaces”) will answer three clearly identified needs: a Junior Research Chair program, a master/graduate school of Physics which will provide an international program for teaching Fundamental Physics, a valorization project to significantly change the approach to dissemination and exploitation of results.

ENS-ICFP is coordinated by the Physics Department of The Ecole normale supérieure. It involves Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université Paris Diderot and Paris Observatory.


The ESEP Labex (Space Exploration and Planetary Environments) brings together nine laboratories in a partnership that pools their resources, their long experience in the field of planetary environments and their technical expertise in space equipment. Space laboratories face a paradox, in that space agencies tend to prefer equipment that has been shown to be effective in the field to innovative, but unproven, instruments. Such a system has the perverse effect of holding innovation in check and hindering the development of new instruments, to the detriment of safety.

By implementing a space equipment technological development plan to improve the Technology Readiness Level of new instruments, ESEP plans to break this vicious circle.

ESEP is involved in three domains: 1. The study of Sun-Earth relations and the meteorology of space 2. Planetary exploration in the Solar System 3. The observation of extrasolar planets

Over a ten-year period, ESEP will undertake a wide range of activities in research and technology, teaching, and cultural valorization, with the aim overseeing technological advances in space equipment for use by a new generation of students, engineers and researchers. At the same time, a focus will be placed on communicating and disseminating knowledge through events to present space exploration to the public.

Planetary environments are at the heart of essential scientific, societal and philosophical questions concerning the place of the Earth in both the Solar System and the Universe beyond, the origins of the Solar System and of life, the conditions required for life to appear and be supported, and the number of habitable worlds in the Universe.

ESEP approaches astronomy as an experimental science, exploring the Solar System in situ, while also using the knowledge gained from such research to enhance its long-distance observation of exoplanets.


"Finance and Sustainable Growth" Laboratory focuses on four main components of research and teaching, in each case with academic teams who have already earned their spurs and who are particularly promising: Sustainable Development Finance, Demographic and Economic Transition Finance, Risks and Regulation and Behavioral Finance. Based in Paris, LABEX FCD is a global and European research center dedicated to finance. Led by the Institut Louis Bachelier, it brings together research teams in mathematics, economics and management, applied to finance, in a group of thirty partner units composed of chairs and research initiatives affiliated to the Fondation du Risque, the Institut Europlace de Finance and the Fondation Dauphine.


Partners: institut Curie / UMR Institut Curie/CNRS 144 "Compartimentation et Dynamique Cellulaires", UMR Institut Curie/CNRS/UPMC 168 "Physico-Chimie Curie", Département de Biologie des Tumeurs, Hôpital Curie, Institut Curie / CNRS UMR 3347 / Inserm U 1021 "Normal and pathological Signaling: from the Embryo to the innovative Therapy of Cancers", Institut Curie / CNRS UMR 3306 / Inserm U 1005 "Signalisation, Neurobiology and Cancer", CNRS/ESPCI UMR "Gulliver"

The Labex "From cells to tissues: where physics meets biology" (CelTisPhyBio) comprises teams of the Cell Biology (UMR 144, 12 teams) and Physics (UMR 168, 11 teams) departments of Institut Curie, other teams belonging to the Idex PSL* and working at the interface between physics and biology are members of "CelTisPhyBio": 3 teams of the Curie Institute in Orsay and one team from the laboratory "Physico Chimie Théorique" of ESPCI. The Labex also comprises a group of clinicians from the Department of Tumor Biology of the Curie Hospital. Based upon this partnership, the labex project will build an interface between Physics and Biology. The research will cover biophysics aspects at three different levels

• Intracellular level: by using simplified reconstituted systems in which the external parameters can be controlled and in vivo experiments we'll obtain quantitative descriptions of the cellular properties. Emphasis will be put on studying membrane remodeling.

• Cellular level: we aim at describing how geometrical, biochemical or mechanical cues can be integrated at the cellular level to influence essential cellular functions, namely cell division, migration, and mechano-sensing. These experiments will rely on physical approaches to change and control the cell micro-environment in a precise and refined manner.

• Tissue level: the behavior of a cell is not an intrinsic property: in a tissue, it strongly depends on its interactions with neighboring cells. It is thus essential to find the right level of description of the collective cell behavior for understanding tissue development. The work on tissues is strongly motivated by its applications to the understanding of the mechanisms of tumor growth and metastasis.

A central mission of "CelTisPhyBio" is the scientific animation of the interface between physics and biology within the Labex and the Idex PSL*. Labex seminars, followed by informal discussions between participants, will be organized as well as public lectures illustrating the contribution of physics to biology (and vice versa) and international focused sessions.

A new teaching and training program will be developed to improve the interdisciplinary communication by simultaneously offering biologist and physicist views on selected subjects such as diffusion processes, biopolymers, membranes and cell mechanics: the Kick-Off meeting was held on October 15, 2012 and the first Labex Retreat took place one year later with more than 170 participants and several external associates members and SAB members.

DEEP (Development, Epigenesis, Epigenetics and Potential)[edit]

This Labex project uses an integrated strategy to allow for a better understanding of the link between genotype and phenotype. The research brings together teams, who will explore the concepts of epigenesis and epigenetics across a range of different biological systems, from yeast to mammalian models. The Labex works alongside collaborators, notably specialists in bioinformatics, modeling and image analysis, from both the Curie Institute(Paris) and the PSL* IDEX.

The DEEP Labex implements a teaching course and a career development program for students and young researchers.

The research program spans three scientific sections: Epigenesis: understanding how complexity emerges during development; Epigenetics: understanding how changes in expression and gene function can become hereditary, without changes to DNA sequence; Potential: understanding how certain cells (stem cells) continue to be able to produce a variety of tissues.

Classic and innovative approaches will be integrated in the study of these three areas, with a research platform employing cutting-edge technology: NanoString: The only technology that allows for the detection and quantification of individual molecules without amplification. The technology makes possible the profiling of hundreds of transcriptions and of miRNA and the study of chromatin modifications and the methylation of DNA. SGA: Synthetic Genetic Array platform. A powerful tool which analyzes the interactions between genes to allow for a greater understanding of the genetic links that regulate meiotic and mitotic heritability. Cutting-edge microscopy: The DEEP project depends greatly on optical imaging and image analysis to measure the dynamics of cellular components, cells, and tissue. The Labex will have new equipment and will update the microscopes that are already in use.

The meeting to launch the project was held on 5 September 2012 with all of the teams involved in the projects and the members associated with the Labex.




The Institute of Cognitive Studies (ICS) is a transdisciplinary center for research and advanced courses in Cognitive Sciences. It will develop the study of superior mental functions such as perception, memory, thinking, language, and action. It will also offer a unique program of Cognitive Science advanced courses of master and doctorate level as well as intensive classes of cognitive engineering for industrial and professional partners. The IEC is coordinated by the Department of Cognitive Studies of the Ecole normale supérieure. It involves French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), EHESS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université Paris-Descartes, Université Paris-Est Créteil, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, ESPCI ParisTech, Curie Institute (Paris), and Chimie ParisTech.


The Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Institute for Microfluidics (IPGGM) aims at creating a new Institute dedicated to fundamental research in microfluidics and "lab-on-chip" applications. This Institute will host over a hundred researchers and a dozen labs. Microfluidics is the key technology to develop labs on chips, which integrate multiple operations that are required for chemical, physical or biological processes. IPGGM is coordinated by Fondation Pierre-Gilles de Gennes pour la recherché and involves ESPCI ParisTech, Chimie ParisTech, Ecole normale supérieure, and Curie Institute (Paris).


Memolife’s objective is to foster and develop the interactions between scientists working at different levels of the living: mathematicians, chemists, physicists, and biologists. The applicants intend to deal with all aspects related to the integrated concept of memory in living systems. The scientific axes range from genome structures, receptors at the synapses to cell biology, development and plasticity.. This high level interdisciplinary work will lead to a better understanding of physiological processes and shed light on the etiology of several pathologies. MemoLife is coordinated by the Institute of Biology of the Ecole normale supérieure in collaboration with the Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherche en Biologie of the Collège de France and laboratories of ESPCI ParisTech. Its involves French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Collège de France and ESPCI ParisTech.


The TransferS Labex will study how cultural transfers have been shaping societies and cultures from Antiquity to the Present Day. In a transdisciplinary mode, TransferS aims at working out new fields and objects of study in human sciences. It will promote the use of digital data in the humanities, and explore methodological and conceptual synergies between up to now unrelated disciplines. The concepts of Cultural Transfers and of Interfaces are at the core of the project and correspond to the heuristic devices that will enable us to approach the question of globalisation. The cultural transfers theory was first elaborated by the project leader, Michel Espagne. Cultural transfers promote transnational studies, focused on circulations between cultural or political communities. The cultural transfers theory challenges the existence of nations, ethnic groups, civilisations, languages or national cultures. Translations, circulations, hybridisations are considered elements intrinsic to any culture. In a similar fashion, the idea of interfaces is a challenge to the traditional understanding knowledge and underlines the habit science has to develop at the crossroads between established disciplines.

WIFI (Waves and Imaging from Fundamentals to Innovation)[edit]

The WIFI Labex (“Waves and Imaging from Fundamentals to Innovation”) from the Langevin Institute aims at becoming a world reference in the field of Wave physics and Imaging through a multidisciplinary approach uniting fundamental research, applied research, business creation and education of students. Numerous fields should benefit from these researches from Medicine (imaging and therapy) to Defence, through Biology, Acoustic Touch Technology, Geophysics, and Communications.

WIFI is coordinated by Fondation Paris Sciences et Lettres – Quartier latin and involves ESPCI ParisTech, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris Diderot University, Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University (University of Paris 6), and French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).

Other considerations[edit]

PSL* institutions are also involved, on a freer basis, in many other selected Labex, such as the "Cultural industries and artistic creation" Labex, "Lifesenses", "UnivEarthS", "MiChem", "Matisse", and so on[9]

Observatoire de Paris

The tender for the Labex received harsh criticism, as a rumour spread that the French government had made a last-minute intervention to include laboratories led by leading scientists in the selection.[10] Among PSL* projects, only one project is said to have been saved thanks to this intervention, the Wifi Labex, supported by the physicist Mathias Fink.

PSL Equipex[edit]


The Financial Historical Data project (D-FIH) is a research project aimed at setting up a historical financial database for Europe. The need for such a database has been felt for a long time, and the latest financial crisis has once again highlighted the weak empirical foundations of the economic and financial analytical models. This project is designed to develop a comprehensive database on the French stock markets since 1800, and to be extended to the other European countries in a second phase already in preparation. This project is driven by a partnership between the Paris School of Economics (PSE), the Institut Louis Bachelier (ILB), the Quetelet Scientific Interest Group (SIG), and the Finance-Innovation Paris Financial Services Cluster. The Paris School of Economics, which scientific expertise on the articulations of economics, science and history is unique, will act as project coordinator and the Institut Louis Bachelier (ILB) will be project manager.


Equip@meso is a project supported by PSL* and nine other research institutions. It will create a network of supercomputers, which will be used to solve highly calculation-intensive tasks. The numerical simulation capacity produced by this network will be put to use in several fields. Biology, nanotechnologies, medical research will use it in order to solve complex problems. It can also be used to simulate environmental situations and help develop appropriate answers to crisis situations. Companies and SMEs can use it as a way to reduce costs, for example by shifting from real to virtual prototypes.


ICGex is a cancer-research programme. It is designed to integrate genomic data into the curative process. Genomic data would be collected, automatedly treated and sequenced, so as to provide medical staff with a genomic map of each tumor. This genomic mapping could be in turn considerably helpful for curing tumors and fighting cancer. ICGex is a joint project of Curie Institute (Paris) and French Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm). It also associates other research organisations and universities in Paris.

IPGG (Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Institute for Microfluidics)[edit]

Microfluidics is a widely represented research area within PSL*. On the Latin quarter campus, its institutions have developed considerable research capacities, notably the Ecole normale supérieure, Chimie ParisTech, ESPCI ParisTech and Curie Institute. Managed by the Fondation Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, the Institute for Microfluidics will achieve this interconnexion. Microfluidics deals with the behaviour, control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically to a sub-millimeter scale. It is a fundamentally multidisciplinary field, intersecting physics, chemistry, biotechnology, and engineering. DNA chips, micro-propulsion and micro-thermal technologies have all evolved from microfluidics. Microfluidics still has considerable potential applications, especially in its droplet-based and continuous-flow variants. Building upon the successful action of the Fondation Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, the IPGG will provide researchers with cutting-edge research facilities, accelerate technology transfer with industry and create an environment conducive to innovation. An industrial incubator will completed its action.


Paris-en-Résonance will establish a new nuclear magnetic resonance platform in Paris. Based in the chemistry department of the Ecole normale supérieure, Paris-en-Résonance is supported by Curie Institute, Collège de France and other research institutions. The equipment will include a dynamic nuclear polarisation mechanism, which will increase its sensitivity. Paris-en-Résonance will open up new prospects in biomolecular and matter research.


The Ultrabrain projet relies upon a groundbreaking innovation in physics, which lies in the ability to cure nervous tissue by ultrasons. It would enable to cure numerous nervous dysfunctions without resorting to surgery. A success in this undertaking would be both a scientific and curative progress. As a consequence, patient comfort would improve and medical facilities would experiment a qualitative leap forward. Ultrabrain will allow : A non-invasive therapy of brain pathologies thanks to locally concentrated ultrasounds. A non-invasive and high-precision neurostimulation through locally concentrated ultrasounds. An exploration of innovative medical imaging procedures through ultrasounds.


Planaqua is a project to build an experimental platform for aquatic ecology, with water volumes varying from microcosms (a thousand cubic centimetres) to mesocosms (a few cubic metres) and macrocosms (artificial lake). This facility will allow comprehensive inquiries into the consequences of human activity upon natural environments and biodiversity. Planaqua will elaborate synthetical and mathematical models to evaluate this interaction, with concrete uses in the fields of environment protection, public policy and green technologies. Planaqua is supported by the Ecole normale supérieure, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and university and research institutions in Paris area.


Run by Eurofidai, the BEDOFIH project aims to create a high-frequency European financial database, allowing for the precise analysis of the increasingly dynamic workings of European financial markets. Current research on European financial markets is held back by a lack of available data. The BEDOFIH project will allow researchers to exploit high-frequency European data histories and thus work towards constructing more reliable financial models and new forms of financial regulation. In light of the implications of this research, the Financial Markets Authority (Autorité des Marchés Financiers) and the Directorate General of the Treasury (Direction Générale du Trésor) in France have supported the project.

PSL Symphonic Orchestra and Choir[edit]

The Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) Orchestra and Choir is a choral symphonic ensemble open to all members of the PSL Research University community. PSL Orchestra and Choir's musical season consists of five different programs and incorporates contemporary work. Johan Farjot and Ranvijay Patwardhan are the artistic and musical directors of PSL Orchestra and Choir. They is supported by a permanent team of six professionals who work with them. Arnaud Thorette is the concertmaster.


  1. ^ [1], Official decree creating the PSL Foundation .
  2. ^ "Decree 2015-408 of 10 April 2015 on approval of the statutes for the ComUE "Université de recherche Paris sciences et lettres - PSL Research University"". 
  3. ^ Such criticism may be read in Gilbert Béréziat's blog. He is himself a professor at the UPMC, a competing university (in French).
  4. ^ Webpage describing the main components of the Investments for the Future.
  5. ^ Official press release by the Ministry, January 20 2011 (in French).
  6. ^ Full list of selected Equipex, January 20 2011 (in French).
  7. ^ [2], Official list of selected "Equipex" projects.
  8. ^ Interview de "La Tribune" avec René Ricol, senior manager for the "Investments for the Future Programme", April 15, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Official PSL* press release, March 25, 2011 (in French).
  10. ^ a b Article by the newspaper "Le Monde": "Grand emprunt: 100 projets de laboratoires d’excellence retenus" (in French).
  11. ^ Official press release by the Ministry for Higher Education and Research, March 25, 2011.
  12. ^ According to an impact-factor study quoted by the Idex document, PSL* would rank among the top 20 universities worldwide (ARWU and THE rankings) and even among the top 10 in some subjects (mathematics, physics, astrophysics).
  13. ^ "Les Echos": "Classement de Shanghaï : les universités françaises piétinent au niveau mondial" (in French).
  14. ^ Interview Paris-Dauphine University Chairman, Laurent Batsch, in "Le Monde", 27 avril 2011.
  15. ^ The website of the Collège de France alone claims 9 million individual watchings for its online video offer.
  16. ^ [3], PSL project.
  17. ^ PSL* press release, April 29, 2011.
  18. ^ Basic facts about Carnot Institutes.
  19. ^ [4] Archived April 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ PSL about New Doctorate.
  21. ^ [5] Archived February 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]