Message from the Chairman of the Institut Pasteur Board of Directors

Press release

The Institut Pasteur's governance is gradually getting back to normal. The new Board of Directors elected by the Institut Pasteur General Meeting met on November 24, 2016. It has set up a new bureau and various committees that are vital for the smooth running of the Board and the leadership of the foundation's work.

Since this date, the Board has devoted its efforts to the implementation of its work plan. In December, the budget forecast for 2017 was adopted and the Finance and Audit Committee, tasked with closely monitoring implementation of the budget, was set up. The Board has also examined the progress made with regard to the 2014-2018 strategic plan, which was presented to it by Institut Pasteur President Prof. Christian Bréchot, and approved the continued implementation of this plan. Before the end of this month, the Board will review the status of the work already achieved and establish a method for the strategy over the coming years. Finally, it will soon be setting up a high-level search committee to select a successor to the current President.

The Board has already had the opportunity to present on campus the principles and objectives that will guide its work in order to maintain the smooth operation and continuity of the Institut Pasteur. These can be summed up as follows:

  • the establishment of a multi-year scientific strategy which strives for excellence, approved by both the outgoing and incoming Board;
  • the continued independence of the Institut Pasteur, within a framework of effective cooperation with its partners;
  • the prevention of difficulties encountered in the areas of budget management, compliance with safety regulations and the preparation of partnership agreements;
  • the introduction of an effective information system, not only internally between all the Institut Pasteur's entities but also externally to promote its strengths and assets as best as possible, in the interests of transparency.

Against the backdrop of these general principles, the Board and the senior management are currently dealing with two issues that have recently been the focus of media attention.

The first concerns the transportation of inactivated MERS-CoV virus samples, for which the required statutory declaration to the ANSM (French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety) was not made. Several people are currently being interviewed by the investigative authorities leading the inquiry in connection with this episode dating back to 2015, which we must make sure does not happen again. The Board has thoroughly examined all the details regarding this incident. Over the past few months we have been working with the Institut Pasteur President to conduct a major campaign with the aim of reiterating the regulations in force, speeding up the procedures for alerts and statutory declarations and stepping up checks on transportation and handling conditions for materials that constitute a health hazard.

The second issue is the disclosure in the press of details alleged to be taken from the report by an interministerial mission set up "to advise the Institut Pasteur", for which three general inspectorates (social affairs, finance, and administration of education and research) were mandated on July 17, 2016. This report, which will soon be presented to the Board, focused on three areas:

- governance;
- risk management;
- the development strategy and its medium- and long-term sustainability.

Once it has been presented and analyzed within the Board, the Institut Pasteur is of the view that it may be helpful to publish this report, if the ministers decide to do so. We would already point out at this stage that, contrary to press accounts, although the report suggests areas for improvement – especially regarding budget management and increased vigilance in terms of compliance with procedures and risk management – it does not challenge the integrity of any of the Institut Pasteur's management team and emphasizes the "good overall current performance" of the foundation. As we are currently rolling out the 2017 Institut Pasteur work plan, this report is proving to be a valuable tool for the Board. Its many proposals are being carefully analyzed and will be taken into account for the implementation of effective improvements which will enable the Board to achieve its objectives.


Christian Vigouroux
Chairman of the Board of Directors


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