The Interfaces axis of the Institut ExposUM

TheExposUM institute aims to establish a reference institute for the study, training and science-society interaction of the exposome, i.e. the socio-environmental determinants of human health.

What is the exposome?
The exposome is the sum total of an individual's lifelong exposure to the environmental and social factors that influence his or her health, as well as the onset, progression and severity of infectious and non-communicable human diseases. In this sense, the exposome is the environmental counterpart of the genome.

Thus, research on the exposome can just as easily focus on environmental pollution, water, air or soil quality, vector-borne diseases, access to healthcare, ways of living in a given area, health inequalities, public health policies, etc...

To find out more about the exposome concept, listen to this podcast from France Culture's méthode scientifique: Exposome podcast

Presentation of the Interfaces Axis and the team

The aim of the Institut ExposUM's Interfaces axis is to create a dynamic for valorizing research results at the interface between science and society. 

At the academic level, the Interfaces axis aims to strengthen interdisciplinarity around the exposome, by encouraging dialogue between the social sciences (sociology, anthropology, geography, etc.), the medical and environmental sciences, the engineering sciences and so on.

In addition, the Interfaces axis aims to strengthen collaborations between academic researchers in Occitanie, civil society (associations, OnG, producer groups, patient associations, SCOOP) and public players (ARS, elected representatives of the metropolis, players in the Occitanie region, local authorities) around transdisciplinary actions, by identifying and supporting convergences with other health/environment dynamics involving academic, public and associative players.

The Interfaces team takes a territorial approach to its actions, supporting new collaborations between public and academic players, while involving civil society, for example by creating new spaces for Science/Decision interaction and translating social demands for research.

The Interfaces team is based at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme SUD (MSH SUD, Unité d'appui et de recherche 2035 CNRS-UM-UPVM) and draws on its facilities: general services and management, image center, ICI-ELA (incubator for broader interdisciplinarity), science-society platform, etc. 

Activities in the Interfaces area are carried out in close collaboration with players in the Occitanie RIVOC Key Challenge, in particular in the V2MOC project, which aims to gain a better understanding of vector-borne infectious risks in the context of the greening of the Montpellier and Toulouse metropolises, in collaboration with the MAK'IT (Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions) at the University of Montpellier, the ImpresS (Impact of Research in the South) team at CIRAD and other research teams.

The Interfaces axis also collaborates with UM's Pôle Universitaire d'Innovation (PUI), which targets innovation and private-sector players for the economic valorization of innovations.

The team

The Interfaces axis is supervised by Aurélie Binot1also a member of the ExposUM CODIR.

Tiphaine Lefebvre, Project Assistant for the Exposum interface pillar, was recruited by the DPS and has been based at MSH SUD since September 2023.

Mariline Poupaud, Scientific Support Officer, was recruited by the DPS and has been based at MSH SUD since January 2024.

Finally, Alexandre Guichardaz, a consultant in concertation engineering, works with the team for 20% of his time, supporting and leading the cohort of ExposUM-winning project leaders.

Interfaces activities

The activities of the interfaces axis can be structured around four main points:

  1. Support for the cohort of project leaders funded by the Institut ExposUM
  2. Promoting interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary initiatives from exposome projects
  3. Running a permanent seminar to stimulate interdisciplinary thinking on the exposome
  4. Support for inter- and trans-disciplinary territorial initiatives in the Occitanie region

1. Support for the ExposUM project cohort

The Interfaces axis supports ExposUM-funded project teams to encourage inter- and trans-disciplinary processes within their projects, if deemed relevant by the project leaders, but also to foster collaboration between project teams. This support is offered to all volunteer winning teams. In 2023, this represents 14 potential teams (7 research projects, 5 doctoral nexuses, 2 fellowships), to which will be added the winning teams of subsequent years.
Find out more about community development...

Various workshops and meetings are offered on different themes:

  • Theme 1: Building community
  • Theme 2: Sharing research methodologies and approaches Global Health/ One Health/ Health-environment
  • Theme 3: Enhancing skills in interdisciplinary practice
  • Theme 4: Working on the science-decision-society link within projects

Various animation formats are available:

2. Support for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary initiatives

Call for expressions of interest

To encourage trans-disciplinary collaboration and networking between research and civil society players, the Interfaces axis offers support to research teams from the Montpellier I-Site community conducting research on themes related to the exposome, environmental health or global health, and involved in collaborations at the science/society interface.

This "Interactions Sciences/Société" call for expressions of interest supports action-research initiatives that strengthen collaborations between I-SITE members and civil society (local authorities, associations and cooperatives, citizens' collectives, government departments such as the ARS, etc.). This support is intended to support and promote transdisciplinary research-action initiatives that are in the design phase (funding exploratory actions to enable a future research-action project), in progress (funding internships, surveys, dissemination events) or completed (promoting the initiative).

Supported events will include at least one communication action to highlight the transdisciplinary initiative and share experience on the levers and barriers of transdisciplinarity at I-SITE level.

Call for territorial project incubation

In addition to the AMI, a call for territorial project incubators will be published every year, with the aim of identifying and supporting projects focusing on health-environment issues with a strong territorial impact.

Funds may be allocated to higher education and research organizations, as well as to associations. This call will also be used to select a project with strong potential for large-scale action and for structuring a trans-disciplinary network on an issue in the Occitanie region, in synergy with the Key Challenges (RIVOC in particular), which may be supported in a more pronounced way the following year. This call corresponds to a sum of 5000€/year.

3. Permanent seminar

The general aim of the permanent seminar is to encourage the emergence of new research issues at the interface between health and the environment, by providing tools for interdisciplinary thinking and reflecting on the links between research and society. Through monthly sessions involving researchers from a variety of backgrounds, the aim is to bring together a research community around the notion of the exposome and health-environment issues, and to encourage reflection on the conduct of inter- and trans-disciplinarity.

The presentations scheduled as part of this seminar will contribute to the participants' reflections along three main lines:

  1. The notion of Environment: these sessions will focus on the opposition between a "pathogenist" conception of an environment as a reservoir of pathogens and a "salutogenist" conception in which the environment is apprehended through socio-ecological functions that regulate their emergence.
  2. The limits of the ambition to integrate: these sessions will question the modalities envisaged for an interdisciplinarity that integrates biological, social and environmental factors, and the ways of dealing with different epistemological and methodological frameworks.
  3. Interaction between research, politics and social actors: these sessions will explore the potential impact of exposome research on civil society actors, and the possibilities of including their demands and proposals in a logic of mutual translation between non-academic and academic actors.

Upcoming sessions of the permanent seminar

  • L'exposome : enjeux épistémologiques de l'intégration en santé-environnement
    Seminar focus: "Les limites de l'ambition d'intégration "
    May 28, 9am to 10:30am
    Salle Kouros, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (71 rue du Professeur Henri Serre, 34090 Montpellier)
    Lien visio : lien teams
    Intervenant-es : Elodie Giroux, philosopher of science at Université Lyon III, Francesca Merlin, researcher in philosophy of biology at CNRS, and Yohan Fayet geographer specializing in health issues at Université Clermont Auvergne-UMR Territoires, co-authors of the book "Integrative Approaches in Environmental Health and Exposome Research". 
  • Ecologies incarnées : la connaissance sensible des habitant-es de leur exposition aux produits chimiques dans la vie urbaine et leurs stratégies pour la réduire
    Seminar focus: "Notion d'environnement "
    June 26, 4pm - 5:30pm
    Salle des Actes, Maison des Sciences de l'Humain SUD (71 rue du Professeur Henri Serre, 34090 Montpellier)
    Link visio : link teams
    Speaker: Anita Hardon, health anthropologist and biologist, Wageningen University, Netherlands.
  • Critical theory of exhibitions
    Seminar theme: "Notion of environment"
    September 26, 10am to 11:30am
    Speaker: Gilles Moutot, Philosopher at UMontpellier Faculty of Medicine

If you'd like to be notified of future permanent seminar sessions, please email Mariline Poupaud or Tiphaine Lefebvre to be added to our mailing list.

Past sessions of the permanent seminar

Previous sessions have been filmed and are available online.

  • Health and environmental issues in the face of public ignorance and inaction
    Seminar theme: "Limits to the ambition of integration" and "Interaction between research, politics and social actors"
    Speaker: Emmanuel Henry, political scientist and sociologist, professor at Université Paris Dauphine-PSL and researcher at the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire en sciences sociales (IRISSO, CNRS, INRAE).
  • Interactions between scientific knowledge and political decision-making in health-environment: The experience of a transdisciplinary working group in Brazil - November 22, 2023, in collaboration with Mak'it.
    Seminar focus: "Interaction between research, policy and social actors"
    Thespeaker, Jean Paul Metzger, Mak'it guest ecologist, presented the center BiotaSynthesis center he heads. This center involves the academic sector and members of the government in transdisciplinary health-environment issues in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He emphasized the importance of syntheses approaches in health-environment to foster dialoguebetween science and policy, and enable the co-construction of public prevention policies.
  • Reconnecting scientific and citizen knowledge about environmental health: The role of eco-citizen institutes for pollution knowledge - December 14, 2023
    Seminar focus: "interaction between research, policy and social actors"
    This session explores the role of citizen institutes for pollution knowledge, which are third-party research facilities based on three pillars: the production of territorialized knowledge, the joint treatment of environmental and health damage, and participation. This session provided food for thought on how to better articulate scientific and citizen knowledge, with regulatory practices, for more effective and precautionary public action in environmental health.
    Speakers: Philippe Chamaret, chemist and director of the Institut écocitoyen de Fos, Viviane Thivent, elected representative from Narbonne and promoter of the Institut écocitoyen de l'Aude, Yann Philippe Tastevin, anthropologist at the CNRS, head of the Observatoire transdisciplinaire des changements environnementaux de Sébikotane Diamniadio (Senegal), Sofia Bento, sociologist at the University of Lisbon, in charge of participatory research for the Observatoire Hommes Milieux d'Estarreja (Portugal) and Christelle Gramaglia, sociologist at the UMR-G-EAU of INRAE in Montpellier, author of a book on citizen experiences and metrology of contamination.
  • Interdisciplinarity between human and social sciences and life and environmental sciences: brakes and levers within a scientific community interested in infectious risks and vectors - December 19, 2023, in collaboration with Kim Rive and RIVOC - Seminar theme: "the limits of the ambition to integrate"
    During this session, the speaker shared his analyses based on a sociological survey of the brakes and levers on interdisciplinarity between human and social sciences and life and environmental sciences. In an attempt to explain the paucity of effective interdisciplinary collaboration within projects, despite the interest of both EVS and SHS players, the speaker returned to sociological definitions of "professions", applying them to the scientific profession. This presentation does not provide a turnkey answer to interdisciplinary research, but does shed light on the obstacles that need to be discussed in any collaborative project.
    Speaker: Jérémy Rollin, researcher in sociology-politics at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Montpellier.
  • La Plateforme Portuaire de Surveillance Environnementale de Cotonou, Bénin : une initiative mutli-acteur-rices pour la gestion des invasions biologiques liés au trafic maritime international. A concrete example of operationalizing research at the science/society interface - February 8, 2024
    Seminar focus: "interaction between research, policy and social actors"
    During this session, speakers shared their experiences around the creation of La Plateforme Portuaire de Surveillance Environnementale Dans le Port Autonome de Cotonou in Benin, officially inaugurated at the end of 2021. This Platform is the first laboratory dedicated to monitoring and supporting the management of invasive species, in particular rodents carrying vectors and pathogens, to see the light of day within an African port. Its implementation is the fruit of numerous interactions between academic and non-academic partners, and is an emblematic example of the possible operationalization of scientific research in the service of societal issues.
    Speakers: Gauthier DOBIGNY and Tasnime ADAMJY, UMR CBGP (IRD), researchers in ecology-evolution.
  • Eternal pollutants: between research and the implementation of public prevention policies
    Seminar focus: "Interaction between research, policy and social actors"
    March 26, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm, in collaboration with Mak'it
    Speaker: Patrick Allard, Mak'it guest, Professor at the Institute for Society and Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), researcher in genetics, epigenetics, developmental biology and environmental health.

4. Territorial actions and networking

Public policies and players

The Interfaces team participates in the "health ecology" working group, initiated by the Metropole and the city of Montpellier, which also brings together a number of research institutes, a hospital and public operators. The Interfaces team is particularly involved in working group no. 3 on impact monitoring and evaluation (using impact pathway methodology) of new forms of governance and collaboration between scientists and the public sector on health-environment issues.

The Interfaces axis is in contact with the people in charge of the Occitanie Regional Health-Environment Plan 4 (led by the Occitanie Regional Health Agency-ARS and the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Planning and Housing -DREAL) to ensure synergy between our actions.

On an ad hoc basis, the Interfaces team supports international teams working at the science-decision interface on health-environment issues. For example, thanks to the support of CIRAD's ImpresS team, Brazilian researchers and a civil servant involved in the Biotasynthesis center were able to draw up an "ex ante" impact pathway for their project(consult the report online).

Support for two local initiatives for 2024

The Gotick initiative to prevent tick-borne diseases

The Interfaces team prepared, hosted and ran five 3-hour workshops, bringing together researchers in tick ecology (Vectopôle Sud), researchers in the humanities and social sciences (educational sciences, social psychology), people from the ARS (vector control), associations (CTIQUE, Graine Occitanie), and a breeder representative (director of the Groupement de Défense Sanitaire Occitanie). This pilot project is built around the ambitions of Occitanie's Plan-régional Santé-Environnement 4.

This incubation has led to an exploratory project and an action plan for 2024, led by the environmental education association Le Graine, in conjunction with PRSE4. The project aims to design and implement educational initiatives to get citizens more involved in the tick risk issues in their local area, and to test one or more scientific research questions in the field of educational science. The aim is to increase citizen involvement, while scientifically measuring and evaluating the impact of public awareness on behavioral change, using a dedicated research protocol. The deployment of this project will rely on a Working Group (WG), bringing together a panel of skills and expertise, in charge of deploying actions in the territories around a given public and site: preparing citizen mobilization, mobilizing through action, reinforcing commitment, maintaining commitment. The project will be presented to the ExposUM COSS in January 2024 for funding approval.

The Citizens' Pollution Knowledge Institute initiative

Since 2010, the Institut écocitoyen pour la connaissance des pollutions de Fos sur mer (Eco-citizen institute for knowledge of pollution at Fos-sur-Mer) has brought together academics and local residents, who work together to develop research that answers questions about the long-term consequences of the forced industrialization that began in the late 1960s and continues today. This third-party research facility is based on three pillars: the production of territorialized knowledge, the joint treatment of environmental and health issues, and participation. This institute is attracting interest and has inspired a number of other initiatives, such as Sébikotane in Senegal, Esterej in Portugal and the Aude region, where an institute is currently being set up. These institutes promote the hybridization of knowledge, particularly in the field of environmental health, and constitute territorial experiments likely to encourage the implementation of preventive measures in health-environment, within the framework of a transformation of territorial dynamics. The Interfaces team proposes to support the networking of these various Institutes as part of a pilot project to be submitted for funding approval to the ExposUM COSS in January 2024.

With the support of Christelle Gramaglia (G-EAU, INRAe), a sociologist who accompanied the emergence of the Fos sur mer institute, the Interfaces team brought together members of the institutes in Aude, Portugal and Senegal via videoconference. This led to a seminar session on December 14 with all these participants, and a 3-hour workshop on the same day to define the contours of the proposed pilot action in 2024.

Actions for the general public

The Interfaces team takes part in and organizes events for the general public. For the year 2024, the ExposUM institute will be presented at the Fête de la Science on October 12 at the Lunaret Zoo.


  1. Aurélie Binot, who has joined MSH SUD as deputy director, is responsible for coordinating the ExposUM Institute's "Interfaces Sciences Société" axis 2 and is a member of the ExposUM CODIR; she is appointed for these missions in her capacity as a CIRAD researcher recognized in this field. As part of this axis 2, the UM can draw on the action-research facilities of MSH SUD and the staff assigned to them, with this UAR then able to take advantage of the implementation of actions on behalf of the ExposUM Institute.

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