Objectives and missions

The Who am I?-Exploring Identity project has been designed and developed as a large networking structure which ambitions are to feed innovative research, to catalyze the exchange of ideas and results, to offer the best inter-disciplinary training to prepare tomorrows’ young researchers and to engage the lay public and the scientififc community in a common dialogue on the identity question.

An Inter-disciplinary Challenge

A key feature of the Who am I? project is the meeting of minds from different disciplines (Life Sciences, Physics, Applied Mathematics, Social Sciences) sharing the same deeply-held conviction that encounters between disciplines create the intellectual environment which catalyzes original thought, advances in knowledge and scientific progress. As such, Who am I? brings together biologists, physicists, mathematicians and social scientists to address a fundamental question together for the next decade: what is the basis of identity? The project consortium is composed of one Industrial Partner and 27 academic teams from eight Partner Institutes located on two main campus,  creating together a coherent network with diverse and highly complementary skills. The teams have been selected for their strong scientific credentials, their dynamism, and their motivation to create an interdisciplinary environment to generate knowledge and innovation.

Promote a public debate

Defining the role of the genome and the epigenome as determinants of identity is part of a social debate about the impact of genetics on health and disease. The ease of access to ‘personalized genomics’ and ‘consumer’ genetic tests raises important questions about how this information is used and interpreted. More generally, a number of research themes explored by the Who am I? project are not only crucial to the scientific community but also constitute major social, ethical and political questioning. A key mission of the Exploring Identity Labex will be to engage the lay public in these issues and to ensure that scientific concepts are communicated in an accurate and accessible manner. For that purpose, a variety of events will be organized within the labex to engage the public in the question Who am I? and the extent to which genetics, epigenetics and environment contribute to personal identities and personal histories.

Innovation and technology transfer

The mission of the Who am I?-Exploring Identity initiative is to catalyze the encounter between disciplines and the synergistic generation of knowledge to benefit science and society. This novel, inter-disciplinary approach is expected to generate a knowledge resource that should be exploited efficently. The project integrates industrial partners such as Genomic Vision and plans to create, within its consortium, an innovative technology transfer culture focused on biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences. Initiatives for fostering partnering opportunities will include: Proofs-Of-Concept grants for translational research, creation of a Technology Transfer Committee (TTC), IP training and development program.

Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring

Who am I? emerges from two universities committed to higher education which partner laboratories actively participate in the training of hundreds of undergrad and doctoral students. One of the objectives of Who am I? is to create a spirit of interdisciplinary research and teaching at the core of the university curriculum and thereby to establish the potential for innovative interactions in the future. Key teaching initiatives include: fellowships for an International PhD Program, transdisciplinary postdoc mentoring program, and supporting emerging teams programme.

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