Letter from the Chairman of the board

The year 2000 was marked by the appointment of a new President, Philippe Kourilsky, together with a new managerial team. A major programme was launched, inspired by a thorough brainstorming developed within the Institut Pasteur throughout 1999, aiming to give its research activities a new dynamic edge and providing advanced technological resources. Twelve key objectives were determined for 2000 and 2001, and approved by the Board of Directors.

In the field of research, this primarily involved identifying future trends: 17 scientific prospective groups, bringing together Institut Pasteur personnel wishing to contribute to the process with external national and international experts, were formed in April 2000. The reports issued by prospective groups were the subject of interdisciplinary discussions held in October and November, involving numerous researchers from the campus. Following the meeting of the External Committee for Scientific and Strategic Orientation in January, and the sessions of the Scientific Council and the Board of Directors, the major directions of the scientific policy adopted by the Institut Pasteur will be defined and issued by the President in April 2001.

It was decided that research units in existence for over twelve years would undergo routine review, as is the usual practice elsewhere. Twenty-five units were therefore reviewed at the end of the year 2000. Once the reviews have been analysed and recommendations issued by the Scientific Council, the President will submit a proposal to the Board of Directors during the first half of 2001 for the renewal, restructuring or closure of the units.

A number of transversal research programmes have been implemented in order to facilitate scientific collaboration between the different units. An initial request for proposals, in April 2000, led to the selection of 17 transversal programmes involving 177 members of staff from 40 Institut Pasteur research units and five of the Pasteur's International Network institutes.

Six programmes focus on immunology and infectious pathogenesis, eight address infectious diseases and cell biology, one focuses on cancer associated with infection, and three concern the development of new antibiotics.

The programmes aim to combine the disciplines of the different units, to focus efforts and resources on key projects, to create new centres of expertise, and to give young researchers the opportunity to further their knowledge in project and team management.

A 5-year programme for the creation of research groups was launched in order to allow young researchers to demonstrate their skills within the context of ambitious projects. The programme, which is open to external applicants, thus provides an opportunity to recruit new talent. The first request for applicants at the end of the year 2000 was a huge success with 157 dossiers, 48 of which were pre-selected due to the quality of the proposed themes and the strength of the applicants references. Following expert review of the 48 dossiers, under the responsibility of the Scientific Council, 24 applications will be presented in order to select the most promising projects. Depending on the strength of the dossiers, ten projects may be launched as early as 2001. A new request for applicants will be issued each year. Technological facilities have been developed in order to provide the research units with high-performance equipment.

The Genopole houses all of the hightechnology equipment required for the implementation of genomic and post-genomic projects. Five technical platforms were created in the year 2000 : genomic projects, DNA microarray, proteomics, annotation and structural genomics. The Bioinformatics Centre and the Centre for Dynamic Imaging have gradually been strengthened. These technological developments will be continued in 2001. The External Committee for Scientific and Strategic Orientation has been set up. Chaired by Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize laureate (United States), with the assistance of Pierre Vassalli (Switzerland), Vice-Chairman, the committee is made up of internationally acclaimed key figures: Piet Borst (Holland), Pierre Chambon (Strasbourg, France), Anthony Fauci (United States), Fotis Kafatos (Germany), Gustav Nossal (Australia) and Gottfried Schatz (Switzerland). The committee has analysed the organisational structure and operation of the Institut Pasteur.

The recommendations issued by the committee will assist the management and the Board of Directors in defining any improvement which may be required.

In the field of public health, it should first be noted that the transfer of hospital activities to Hôpital Necker, at the end of 1999, was carried out successfully, and will allow patients to benefit from additional services. The closer links established with Hôpital Necker, and also Hôpital Cochin, have enabled further co-operation to be envisaged, namely in terms of clinical research, a natural extension of the research unit activities and an essential preliminary step with regard to industrial optimisation projects.

The medical centre has been extensively restructured. In addition to the conventional activities relating to vaccination, tropical disease clinics and the rabies centre, the centre has opened several new specialised clinics together with a medical analysis laboratory.

The mandates of the 20 National Reference Centres (CNR) have all been renewed by the French General Directorate of Health (part of the Ministry of Health). Ten of them are also classed as WHO Collaborating Centres. These centres operate as real watchdogs in the field of microbiology, monitoring transmissible diseases and working constantly in close collaboration with the research units. The Institut Pasteur has continued its efforts in terms of training. During the year 2000, it welcomed 255 students of 31 nationalities, together with 830 trainees of 58 nationalities. Several courses have been organised and steps have been taken with a view to introducing new types of training and strengthening links with universities. Furthermore, plans to create a public health school are currently being studied. The consolidation of alliances between the Institut Pasteur and the outside research community is now a widely recognised priority. Closer links have therefore been established with the major French research bodies, such as the CNRS [French National Scientific Research Centre], INSERM [French National Institute for Health and Medical Research], INRA [French National Institute for Agronomic Research] and the Institut Curie, etc. Several new partnership projects are currently being discussed, and a framework agreement with the Institut Pasteur in Lille has been concluded. A number of projects have also been concluded or are currently being negotiated with the Paris VI, Paris VII and Paris XI universities. As part of the agreement with the Fondation Marcel Mérieux for the creation of the Mérieux-Pasteur Research Centre, the Institut Pasteur has taken over the scientific leadership of the P4 high-security laboratory in Lyon, specialised in the study of haemorrhagic fevers. The team was set up in the last term of the year 2000. In keeping with the Pasteurian mission, international action is one of the conditions for the development of the institute, and also represents one of its fundamental humanitarian vocations. The International Network of Instituts Pasteur and Associated Institutes has continued to consolidate its activities together with cross-disciplinary co-operation. The different possibilities for developing these activities in the future are being considered. The inauguration of the Hong Kong University-Pasteur Research Centre in October 2000 is an excellent preliminary step in extending the institute's links with Asia.

Financial resources

Although the financial situation for the year 2000 remains satisfactory due to excellent cost control and the positive results achieved by the industrial partnership and optimisation activities, the outlook for the next three years is more of a concern. The steps taken to increase the institute's resources will be intensified, the full effects of which will only be seen in 2004/2005. The Institut Pasteur needs additional resources in order to fulfil its mission. The launch of new research programmes, modernisation of facilities, recruitment of new talent, and development of the international presence and role of the institute cannot be achieved without a genuine rise in income since the financial stability of the institute cannot possibly be undermined.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors was partly re-elected by the members of the General Meeting on June 27th 2000. The following people were re-elected: Michel Bon (Chairman of France-Telecom), Josiane Grégoire (technologist, Institut Pasteur), Raphaël Hadas-Lebel (senior member of the Council of State and member of the Commission de Régulation de l'Électricité), and Jean-Claude Lehmann (Director of Research and Development, Saint-Gobain). The following people were elected: Pr Françoise Barré-Sinoussi , François de Combret (General Partner, Banque Lazard), Pr Jean-Pierre Changeux (Head of Unit, Institut Pasteur), Pierre Faurre* (Chairman and Managing Director, Sagem) and Didier Sicard (Chairman of the Ethics Advisory Committee and Head of the Internal Medicine Department, Hôpital Cochin). The officers of the Board of Directors were re-elected: Philippe Rouvillois, Chairman, Michel Bon and Claude Cherki, Vice-Chairmen, Charles Lantieri, Treasurer, and Pr Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Secretary. The members of the General Meeting were partly re-elected, with 26 new members.

Appointments

Oreste Acuto has been appointed head of the Immunology Department, Florence Colbère-Garapin, head of the Virology Department, Jean-François Nicolas, head of the Molecular Biology Department, and Gabriel Gachelin, acting head of the Molecular Biology of the Gene Unit. The following units have been created: the Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Unit, headed up by Paul Brey; the Bordetella Unit, headed up by Nicole Guiso; the Aspergillus Unit, headed up by Jean-Paul Latgé; the Oncogenic Virus Epidemiology and Pathophysiology Unit, headed up by Antoine Gessain; the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance of Biomolecules Unit (as a result of converting the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Unit), headed up by Muriel Delepierre; the candidate Structural Bioinformatics Unit, headed up by Michaël Nilges; the candidate Eukaryotic and Viral Translational Control Unit, headed up by Katherine Kean; the candidate Cell Biology of Parasitism Unit, headed up by Nancy Guillen, and the candidate Genome Dynamics Unit, headed up by Benoît Arcangioli. Finally, the following units have been closed: the Viral Oncology Unit (following the retirement of Pr Luc Montagnier), the Biological Macromolecule Physicochemistry Unit (following the retirement of Pr Henri Buc), and the Infectious Pathophysiology Unit (Mr Gilles Marchal). The year 2000 has been particularly eventful due to the creation of a new managerial team, and also as a result of defining and taking the first steps to implement a number of new orientations. As it enters 2001, the Institut Pasteur is dedicated more than ever to the pursuit of excellence in fulfilling its mission.

Philippe Rouvillois Chairman of the Board of Directors, Institut Pasteur

Objectives for 2001

The policy defined in January 2000 aims to adapt our three main missions (research, teaching and public health) to the challenges of the 21st century. True to Pasteur's principles, these three missions are inextricably linked. Scientific research, while essentially focusing on basic research, must lead to applications in the field of public health, and teaching must serve to pass on new advances made in scientific knowledge. Taking into account the results obtained in 2000, six main lines of priority action have been defined for 2001 which allow for the completion of the twelve objectives assigned for the year 2000

Structuring the scientific, teaching and public health policies

Implementing the twelve-year rule and creating five-year groups

Developing international policy

Defining and promoting progress in professional orientations, and the methods of personnel assessment and remuneration

Harmonising the objectives and resources available for research, teaching and public health

Increasing financial resources

Structuring the scientific, teaching and public health policies

Defining the main line of a targeted scientific policy, based on the conclusions of the prospection groups and the findings of the Scientific Council.

Finalising and implementing the research department restructuring programme: collecting and collating the opinions of the departments staff, organising extensive in-house dialogue in order to define, during the latter half of the year, the conditions for implementation on 1 January 2002.

Finalising and implementing the reforms of the Scientific Council and Classification Commission: submitting a proposal to the Board of Directors for new operational procedures concerning the two bodies, following notification and consultation with the bodies representing the personnel.

Developing teaching activities by continuing to adapt the programmes, internationalising some courses, and launching the project for the creation of a public health school.

Intensifying our public health activities: finalising the restructuring of the Medical Center and developing relations with Hôpital Necker; creating the Cochin-Pasteur Center for Clinical Vaccinology; establishing the Clinical Research Center as a methodology centre and interface; determining the strategy and organisational structure of the Reference Centers.

Implementing the twelve-year rule and creating five-year groups

The twelve-year rule: following the advice of the Scientific Council, formulating decisions concerning the units established for at least twelve years, reviewed at the end of 2000, and proposing decisions to the Board of Directors.

Organisation of reviews for 2001 and 2002.

Five-year groups: review by the Scientific Council, creation of the first groups, organisation of the second call for proposals.

Developing international policy

Creation of the position of an International Affairs Director.

Prioritising European action aiming towards intra-European research programmes and associated financing, particularly focusing on three major diseases: AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Giving high priority to ensuring the consistency of the Institut Pasteur international relations with the major international organisations, particularly the WHO.

Continuing to explore opportunities for co-operation in China, in addition to the Hong Kong research centre.

Strengthening the International Network of Instituts Pasteur and Associated Institutes.

Refining network management structures.

Defining and promoting progress in professional orientations, and the methods of personnel assessment and remuneration

In addition, specifying the roles and responsibilities of the various positions at the Institut Pasteur (heads of department, of unit, five-year group leaders, CNRs directors, transversal research programme managers, technological facility managers, together with shared divisions and departments, etc.). Specifying the status of engineers.

Harmonising the objectives and resources available for research, teaching and public health

Defining an information technology policy and plan. Developing the technical platforms and animal facilities. Defining a general policy for biological resources. Pursuing the quality approach in the National Reference Centers, and extending it to other activities.

Completing the website, together with an English-language version.

Increasing financial resources

Continuing our efforts to improve management and streamline costs. Obtaining additional funding from public authorities and international organisations. Increasing industrial exploitation revenue. Increasing revenues from giving (donations and bequests).

Philippe Kourilsky President, Institut Pasteur