The Muse success story continues with "ExposUM

On November 30, the University of Montpellier, in close collaboration with its partners in the MUSE I-site, was awarded 23.2 million euros for its ExposUM project, which won the "Excellence in all its forms" call for projects under the future investment program (PIA4). This sum has been doubled by the Occitanie Region, which brings to 46.4 million euros over eight years the funding for this project dedicated to the study of external and environmental factors capable of affecting human health.

This success is satisfying in more ways than one," says Philippe Augé, president of the University of Montpellier. " First and foremost, it is a recognition of the University's leadership in the life sciences and the environment. It is a leadership that we have built with our partners around the three challenges of "feeding, caring and protecting" and at the crossroads of which ExposUM is located.

A unifying project

ExposUm is the name of this ambitious project that the University and its partners submitted in response to the call for projects " Excellence in all its forms ". The name was chosen in direct reference to the concept of the exposome, which refers to " all exposures to external and environmental factors (food, pollution, infectious agents, etc.) that can affect human health," explains Eric Delaporte, professor of infectious diseases and project leader. This is an extremely unifying theme in Montpellier, which will allow us to cross-reference a large number of themes, as well as multiple disciplines such as oncology, nutrition, ecology, chemistry, human sciences, etc. And we have excellent research centers to do this.

To respond to this call for projects, the University of Montpellier, as well as the CNRS,IRD,Inrae, CIRAD,Inserm, Montpellier University Hospital, theCancer Institute, the Agro Institute,ENSCM,Ifremer, andInria have come together to devise a project that brings together the strengths of Montpellier. This project is the result of a collective effort to make the most of all the skills we have at Muse," continues Eric Delaporte. For François Pierrot, director of the Muse I-site, ExposUM is nothing less than the "keystone of the edifice we have been building since 2017: bringing together a large number of scientific communities around the three pillars we have chosen."

Strong support from the Occitanie region

Of the 35 applications received by the Ministry, only 15 were retained in this first selection wave. While some major Parisian universities were rejected, the University of Montpellier is the only one in Occitania to be awarded the label. " This is a further success in addition to the 2.5 million euros obtained two weeks ago for innovation clusters. These successes strengthen the credibility of the University and its partners," said Philippe Augé.

The Ministry states that "the projects selected are all supposed to have an impact on their territory. A local dimension widely highlighted in the project Montpellier to which the Region wished to respond by doubling the stake and providing in turn an envelope 23.2 million euros. A commitment made in the name of its green pact for Occitania, as President Carole Delga emphasized: " The collective research work that the University of Montpellier and its partners will conduct on the impact of external factors and our environment on health is essential. A better understanding of these phenomena means being able to implement more appropriate and innovative public policies on the regional territory. This is why I wanted to give this project every chance of success through strong financial support.

By supporting the establishment and development of companies, ExposUM should also be a major asset for the metropolis and the Med Valley project, which aims to make Montpellier a European-class cluster in the fields of health, environment, food and well-being.

New Chairs of Excellence

In total, more than 46 million euros over 8 years will be added to the resources provided by the University and its 11 partners. This is a significant sum and a strong signal for Montpellier at the national level," says Eric Delaporte enthusiastically. Our project is extremely ambitious and we must now collectively establish the precise strategic orientations of the first actions we want to implement." Research projects will of course see the light of day thanks to the recruitment of young researchers, but also new chairs of excellence " which will really be at the heart of ExposUM ".

The state-of-the-art technological platforms for assessing risks, measuring pollutant concentrations and monitoring their effects on health will be strengthened through the recruitment of engineers. Human and financial resources will also be provided to better exploit research results and make them directly useful to society. Of course, training will not be forgotten, with the creation of new training courses in Montpellier, but also in areas where emerging risks are significant. " With ExposUM, we will simply be writing the next chapters of the Muse success story," concludes Eric Delaporte.