Call for research projects ExposUM 2024: Exposome & major societal challenges

ExposUM is an initiative of the University of Montpellier and its partners1 aimed at establishing an out-of-building, decompartmentalized reference institute for the study, training and science-society interfaces of the environmental determinants of human health. Winner of the ExcellenceS call for projects (PIA4) and supported by the Occitanie Region, ExposUM is funded to the tune of 46.4 million euros over the period 2022-2030.

Context & objective of the call

The exposome is the sum total of lifelong exposure to environmental and social factors whose effects affect human health through the onset, promotion, modulation or prevention of diseases, whether transmissible or not. In this sense, it is the environmental counterpart of the genome, with which it interacts throughout an individual's life.

The aim of the ExposUM Institute's Research Axis is to support and accelerate the acquisition of primary knowledge in an interdisciplinary, coordinated and non-segmented manner on the four pillar fields of study of the exposome:

  1. Strengthen the monitoring of environmental exposures,
  2. Refine our understanding of the ecology of hosts, pathogens, reservoirs and vectors ( One Health approach),
  3. Improve fundamental understanding of the biological mechanisms that may be modulated by the exposome,
  4. Study the consequences for human health.

Data science forms a bridge linking these pillars, in terms of both methodology and analysis, and the valorization of results. A second bridge, formed by the study and development of new exposure control strategies, completes this architecture articulated with the Interfaces and Training axes.

It is within this framework that the Institut ExposUM organizes an annual call for research projects (AAP-R), co-financed by the ANR and the Occitanie Region. Each AAP-R focuses on a different, deliberately broad theme, covering contexts, processes, patterns or methods, and including research in the pillars and bridges mentioned above.

In line with the ambitions of the ExcellenceScall for proposals, the Institut ExposUM strongly encourages trans-disciplinary, South-oriented research projects, the initiation of new collaborations, and the development of local and regional resources (particularly technological platforms). As far as possible, projects should be part of the open science approach, making the data produced easy to find, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).2.

Themes

The topic chosen by the Institut ExposUM for the AAP-R 2024 is "Exposome & major societal challenges".

Some of the challenges of the 21st century can be identified with our actual(e.g. chemical pollution) or potential(e.g . emerging pathogens) exposome. Our exposome is altered proximally by the causes of certain challenges(e.g. climate change), or collaterally by the solutions likely to be deployed(e.g. feeding and housing 9 billion people in 2040). The spatial, temporal or inter-individual (health and socio-economic) heterogeneities of the exposome are an important dimension, both fundamental and applied, of many societal challenges (populations far from healthcare, the elderly, the disabled).

With this in mind, the Institut ExposUM is keen to support original transdisciplinary research projects that form part of an interface between fundamental research on the exposome and public health, in the broad sense of One Health, relating to major societal challenges - whether or not they are mentioned in this text, provided the choice is explicit and sufficiently argued.

Calendar

  • Opening date: November 9, 2023
  • Closing: January 31, 2024, 14:00 UTC+1
  • Distribution of results: week of June 10
  • Project start date : From mid-July to no later than October 30, 2024
  • Evaluation feedback: First half of October

Financing arrangements

For its 2024 edition, the ExposUM Institute has divided its AAP-Research into three project categories - standard, support and exploratory. A specific PAA will also be opened at a later date for the acquisition of research equipment installed within regional research platforms.

By way of illustration, it is planned to fund 3 standard projects, 4 support projects and 4 exploratory projects under this AAP, for a total budget of two million euros.

Standard research projects

This category corresponds to the reference project format leading to the production of original results that can be valorized or published.

  • Funding and term: €200K over a maximum of 2 years
  • Eligible expenses: salaries (researcher, engineer, technician, assistant recruited as part of the project); operating costs (missions, consumables, internships, services, publication costs, etc.); equipment.
  • Ineligible expenses: doctoral contracts (financed by the ExposUM Nexus scheme), management fees.

Support research projects

This category corresponds to the standard research project , to which is added the full cost of the carrier's salary.

  • Specific eligibility criteria: the candidate must have defended his/her thesis(PhD) between 2017 and 2023, and have at most two years' seniority on a contract (CDD researcher, ITA or BIATSS level IGR) with the University of Montpellier by September 2024. He/she must be capable of rapidly taking on scientific responsibilities and projecting him/herself according to the strategic interests of the ExposUM consortium partners (particularly internationally). The candidate may be away from the site at the time of submission, but in this case he/she undertakes to join the UMR with which he/she is proposing the research project, to which the funds will be allocated.

The candidate commits to a proactive approach with a view to obtaining a statutory position in an ExposUM consortium unit.

The candidate's application will be examined by the University of Montpellier's Human Resources Department.

  • Funding and term: €200K + salary of the carrier, over a maximum of 2 years
  • Eligible expenses: salaries (researcher, engineer, technician, assistant recruited as part of the project); operating costs (missions, consumables, internships, services, publication costs, etc.); equipment.
  • Ineligible expenses: doctoral contracts (financed by the ExposUM Nexus scheme), salaries of statutory staff, management costs.

Exploratory research projects

The aim of these projects is to initiate an original, exploratory research dynamic, test hypotheses and approaches, and produce preliminary results with a view to future responses to larger-scale calls for tender.

  • Specific eligibility criteria : exploratory and original nature of the project.
  • Funding and duration: €50K over a maximum of 2 years.
  • Eligible expenses: operating costs (missions, consumables, internships, services, publication costs, etc.); equipment.
  • Ineligible expenses: salaries, doctoral contracts (financed by ExposUM Nexus), management costs.

Eligibility criteria for all three categories

Research projects must meet the following criteria:

The project's main sponsor must be a permanent or contract staff member affiliated to a research structure belonging to the consortium3 and employed by one of the consortium's partners. He or she must already be an official member of the structure in question - or by October 2024 at the latest - and in the case of contract staff, his or her contract with the same structure must run until the planned end of the project. The project may have one or more partner structures. However, only structures included in the list of eligible structures in this call for proposals will be able to receive funding for the project.

The project must aim to produce knowledge relating to the exposome - i .e., any determinant of human health of environmental (including social) origin - and fit within the thematic scope of the current call for projects. This must be clear from the project summary.

Recruitment

  • Funded personnel can only be recruited from within the consortium's research structures.
  • Contract researchers will be recruited by UM

Submission deadlines and procedures

In view of the Institute's evaluation capabilities, the number of authorized submissions is limited at research structure level, as follows (maximum number of projects submitted as a supporting structure, submitted per unit/university hospital federation (UHF)*, as the main sponsor per unit/UHF:

*FHU applications are reserved for members who are not affiliated to a research structure in the consortium. FHUs will be considered as structures with fewer than 60 full EC/Cs. As a general rule, an EC/C can only apply under its main affiliation.

Structure size (in number of EC/C holders)Maximum number of projects authorized by category 
standard and supportexploratory
≤ 601 standardor 1 support1
> 601 standard + 1 support or 2 supports

Lecturers and researchers (EC/C), including hospital practitioners (PH) and permanent university hospital staff (MCU-PH, PU-PH).

The project should preferably be written in English, based on the matrix and the provisional budget, and following the instructions given on the latter, depending on the project category chosen.


Submission must be made exclusively by sending the project in PDF format and the provisional budget in Excel format by email before January 31, 2024 (14:00 UTC+1).

  • Title the PDF and Excel as follows: Last name First name Carrier_Name Structure of Research_Project category.pdf,
  • Specify in the subject line: [AAP-R 2024] - Last name First name Project sponsor_Name Research_Project category, copying the management of the supporting research organization.

Evaluation & selection

All projects will be evaluated on the basis of the file submitted.4.

The scientific quality of the research projects will be assessed by the Conseil d'Orientation et d'Évaluation de la Research (COER), which will also call on an anonymous external rapporteur (French outside Occitanie or foreign) for each project, according to the following criteria:

  • its scientific interest and originality, within the scope of the ExposUM Initiative,
  • methodological skills,
  • its impact potential (both fundamental and applied),
  • feasibility (in terms of partners, timetable and budget).

Peri-scientific quality will be assessed by the Management Committee (CoDir), in the strategic interests of the Institute, the site and its partners, according to the following criteria:

  • transdisciplinarity, and the initiation of new partnerships,
  • One Health and global health dimensions5,
  • South-facing,
  • health translation potential,
  • interaction with training and interfaces (science - society)6,
  • capitalizing on local (Montpellier) and regional (Occitanie) resources, as well as other projects7 within the ExposUM perimeter, whether funded or submitted,
  • respect for the open science approach adopted by the University of Montpellier.

For each category of research project, a ranking will be established by adding the two scores, weighted two-thirds for scientific quality and one-third for peri-scientific quality.

The independent rankings of the three categories will then be submitted for project selection by the Scientific and Strategic Orientation Council (COSS), within the Institute's budgetary limits set for its 2024 calls.

In the event that the number of projects submitted exceeds the Institute's ordinary evaluation capacity, the Orientation and Evaluation Council of Research (COER) and the ExposUM Management Committee (CoDir) reserve the right to make a pre-selection based on the suitability of the abstract for the scope of the call.

Commitments of the carrier

  • Respect, in the design and implementation of the project submitted to this call for projects, the values and principles of scientific integrity intended to guarantee the honest and scientifically rigorous nature of all research work, as referred to in article L.211-2 of the French Research Code and set out in the Charte nationale de déontologie des métiers de la recherche and the Charte relative à l'intégrité scientifique de l'Université de Montpellier,
  • Compliance with the Nagoya Protocol, where applicable,
  • Include the logos of the University of Montpellier, France 2030, Institut ExposUM and Région Occitanie in all documents relating to the project (publications, communication media, etc.).
  • Send to the Institute (rf.re1721338314illep1721338314tnomu1721338314@paa-1721338314musop1721338314xe1721338314), an annual report and a final report no later than two months after the end of the project (financial statement and summary report), which can be used in the University's communication media according to a template provided. A project guide detailing management procedures and reporting expectations will be sent to the selected project sponsors.
  • apply the UM's publication signature charter to all scientific productions; respect the provisions of open science and the Law for a Digital Republic ( open access publication). The holders of UM sub-tutored laboratories will deposit the full text of publications in the open archive(https://hal.umontpellier.fr).
  • obtain the necessary research authorizations/approvals in regulated sectors (genetically modified organisms, use of animals for scientific purposes, health data, use of genetic resources and resulting benefit-sharing, bioethics, etc.).

List of research structures eligible for this call for proposals

ABSYS, AGAP, AIDA, AMAP, ANALYSES, ART-Dev, ASTRE, BC2M, BCM, BioWooEB, BRM, CBGP, CBS, CDE, CEE-M, CEFE, CEMIPAI, CEPEL, CERCOP, ChimEco, CRBM, CREAM, DEFE, DGIMI, DIADE, DiaScope, DMEM, ECO&SOLS, ECOTRON, EDPFM, EDSM, ESPACE-DEV, EuroMov, DHM, FHU Evocan 2, FHU Neurexpo, FHU Regenhab 2, FHU TIE, Forêts et Sociétés, G-EAU, GECO, Génopolys, GM, HortSys, HSM, IATE, IBMM, ICGM, ICSM, IDEDH, IDESP, IEM, IES, IGF, IGH, IGMM, IHD, IHPE, IMAG, IMAGINE, INM, INNOVATION, INTERTRYP, IPSiM, IRCM, IRIM, IRMB, ISDM, ISEM, ITAP, L2C, LBE, LBN, LDP, LEPSE, LICeM, LIRDEF, LIRMM, LISAH, LMGC, LPHI, LSTM, LUPM, Maraîchage, MARBEC, MISTEA, MIVEGEC, MMDN, MoISA, MRE, MRM, MSH, Sud, OREME, PCCEI, Pech Rouge, PHIM, PhyMedExp, QualiSud, Recyclage et Risque, SantESiH, SELMET, SENS, SPO, Sys2Diag, TETIS, TransVIHMI, Vassal, VBIC

Institut ExposUM governance

Management Committee (CoDir) : Éric Delaporte (dir.), Aurélie Binot (interfaces), Charlotte Boullé (training), Mircea Sofonea (research).

Operational team: Morgane Cottin, Camille Couralet, Noémie Moret, Elodie Suttling.

Scientific and Strategic Orientation Council(COSS) : Jacques Mercier (pres.), Amaria Baghdadli, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Pascal Demoly, Delphine Destoumieux-Garzon, Hélène Fenet, Didier Fontenille, Sylvain Gandon, Julie Pannequin, Denis Pesche, Coumba Toure Kane, Muriel Vayssier-Tarissat, Laurent Visier.

Conseil d'Orientation et d'Évaluation de la Research (COER): Manouk Abkarian, Anne-Muriel Arigon, Charlotte Boullé, Anca-Mirela Chiriac, Constance Delaby, Gauthier Dobigny, Elena Gomez, Christelle Gramaglia,l Antoine Gross, Alexandre Hobeika, Nadine Laguette, Georges Lutfalla, Antonio Maraver, Anatja Samouelian, Mircea Sofonea (pres.), Jérôme Thireau, Annelise Tran.


  1. Cirad, CNRS, Ifremer, INRAe, Inria, Inserm, IRD, ENSCM, Institut Agro, CHU Montpellier, ICM, Région Occitanie.
  2. The list of holders' commitments is detailed at the end of this document.
  3. See list of eligible structures on last page.
  4. The procedure for this AAP does not include a response to the rapporteurs or an interview.
  5. To qualify for this bonus, the mere mention of the One Health approach is insufficient: the simultaneous study of human, animal and environmental health must be explicitly argued and central to the project.
  6. The integration of internship or thesis students in the project or ordinary scientific dissemination are insufficient to benefit from this bonus, which is aimed at projects articulated with actions specific to the Institute's other two axes.
  7. This point is particularly valued if the auxiliary project in question does not involve the same members and structures.