Programme Grands investissements d’avenir
Sensory disorders significantly impact cognition, education, employment, autonomy and are associated with a heavy socio-economic burden (e.g. the combined cost of visual and auditory impairment is estimated at 600 billion Euros). Major improvements are expected as major advances in diagnostics, prevention, regenerative medicine and prosthetics are likely to revolutionize the management of many conditions that are currently poorly addressed. However, reaching these ambitious objectives requires the cooperation of clinicians, scientists, engineers, and industrial partners working together to elaborate innovative strategies and to promote the assessment of and access to state-of-the-art, cost-effective care. The LIFESENSES LABEX project results from the major joint effort of leading institutions, which created an integrated translational environment to tackle the main hurdles in the fight against sensory impairment. The Project leader, Pr José-Alain Sahel, and the teams have managed to create in less than 5 years a Clinical Investigation Center (CIC) and National Reference Centers for retinal dystrophies, and the Paris Vision Institute
This consortium also includes research into auditory impairment through the merging with Pr Christine Petit’s laboratory, at the origin of major breakthroughs in the identification of causative genes for deafness and pathogenic mechanisms involved as well as the discovery of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the normal functioning of the peripheral auditory system. These research centers are closely intricated with the Quinze-Vingts National Ophthalmology Hospital Center and the Trousseau Hospital department of audiology. All these Institutions are part of the leading French University (UPMC, PRES Sorbonne Universités). Patient associations are deeply involved in the support, dissemination and assessment of the innovations. In LIFESENSES, translational innovations are implemented in close partnership with industries, from SMEs (40 to date, including an incubator) to worldwide leaders (e.g. Essilor world leader in ophthalmic optics, and several others. The creation of the LIFENSES LABEX represents a unique opportunity to position the LABEX as a world leader i.e. 1) to boost the efficiency of on site management and teams and foster their collaboration, 2) to cross-fertilize the fields of auditory and vision research, 3) to promote the development of high resolution imaging systems, 4) to build the most comprehensive knowledge server, 4) to develop new biomarkers and trials designs, 5) to assess the real-life impact of evidence-based medicine, 6) to provide the best environment for creating and testing innovative technologies for the visual and hearing impaired, 7) to support the emergence of multidisciplinary players by transversal training programs giving rise to the next generation of translational scientists, clinicians and engineers, 8) to attract and retain top researchers and clinicians, 9) to increase international collaborations with leading institutions and build a bi-national translational research Institute with London.