About us

CRI Research Collaboratory is a research unit of INSERM and University of Paris (UMR U1284), working at the crossroads of life, learning, and digital sciences.

Founded in the spirit of facilitating the transition from closed scientific enquiry to a more open model we aim to transcending barriers between disciplines, science and the society. We foster research at crossroads between interdisciplinary life and health sciences, basic understanding of learning processes and novel education technology/methodology testing and implementation, and digital sciences.

We pursue open, collaborative research projects to tackle the world’s health and education challenges, focusing on the following broad topics, amenable to bridge foundational research and societal impact:

Open health: from data-rich research to development of frugal software and hardware solutions

Open learning: from understanding learning to human-machine paradigms

Open AI: Understanding and shaping current digital transition in context of learning, health and/or human-machine paradigms.

Open phronesis: tackling ethical challenges of our time.

Open synthetic and systems biology: from foundational understanding of living systems to open biotech and open pharma solutions.

  • 1 diverse community of passionate and engaged people
  • 12 teams
  • 35+ researchers, postdocs, PhD students, interns and staff
  • 3500m2 of lab and office space
Key aspects of the CRI Collaboratory
Confluence of interacting diverse topics

CRI catalyses research on subjects at the interfaces between life sciences, learning science and computer science. These subjects are vast, but also increasingly interconnected. Many scientific institutions are working on some combination of them, but are generally not able to focus on the questions that arise at the boundaries.

CRI is a place where researchers can remix, recombine, crossfertalize and ultimately pursue ideas that cannot be boxed into a single field. With interdisciplinarity not just in in its name but also deeply and fundamentally rooted in its scientific and educational culture, CRI stands out as an institution where research connecting life, learning, and computer sciences can be most effectively conducted.

Open participative science

CRI strongly encourages the culture of openness and broad personal involvement on all levels and in all contexts. This ethos includes the transparency in the internal workings of the organisation, insistence on open publication and open data, but also participative science via Citizen science projects, dry and wet Open Labs, and science communication and popularisation via the MOOC factory.

All these principles and efforts, rarely present in the same structure, give CRI fellows broadest possible support group, collaborator base, and active audience, while enabling all stakeholders to fully benefit from current and future innovative ways of doing science.

Cutting edge, accessible and scalable technology

CRI provides state of the art physical space, technical platforms, a broad pool of external expertise network and project support, all of which combined will directly minimise the time required to pass from conception to testing and prototyping.

CRI labs facilities include: a wet lab for systems and synthetic biology, a strong computational support, a GameLab to develop games for research and teaching, a MakerSpace to prototype digital approaches, networked objects, sensors and experimental setups in sub-micron to macro scales, a MOOC lab to produce online courses, a MobileLab to develop innovative projects for using smartphones in health and education.

We specifically focus on open source, generic and low-cost technologies, ones that can be hacked, forked, adjusted and reused. The platforms, as well as their dedicated permanent staff, are there not only to support but also inspire. Most importantly, this approach enables smooth transition between fellows’ past and future, making them flexible, adaptable and largely independent of high-cost, proprietary technology.

Flattened hierarchy and strong co-mentoring

CRI research is not organized around classical teams with rigid pyramidal structure. Instead, each fellow, regardless of their seniority will be supported by at least one expert, their principal mentor, and a number of co-mentors, who will bring individual expertise.

These co-mentors are considered associate faculty, recruited from a large pool of French and international fellows, including members of CRI’s own teaching body. Most may not have a permanent physical presence at CRI, but form its backbone of global expertise and mentorship. The ongoing co-mentor appointments ensure that fellows are supported in a flexible way, one that co-evolves with their research interests and needs.

Collaborative eco-stystem of scientific risk-takers

The theme of openness at CRI continues beyond the technology used towards the way in which we approach the process of doing research itself. We are a collaboratory – a lab of labs in which the knowledge and technical competencies will be actively shared among the fellows, prioritizing collective intelligence approach over individual, highly specialized pursuits.

We host fellows who thrive in a dynamic environments, are inspired and motivated by daily interactions with diverse peers, work best in teams and comfortably mix disciplines, rearranging and straddling field boundaries. Within the 20-strong fellows we carefully balance between duration (3 months – 5 years), seniority and expertise. CRI fellows are able to explore first hand the potential of interdisciplinary approaches, IT, games related to scientific discovery, and citizen scientists.

Their time at CRI provides a respite from the prevalent culture of grant chasing, cut-throat competition, publish-or-perish, and risk avoiding. CRI strives to be the rare home for this different type of researcher, whose potential may be unfulfilled and approach unwelcome in most classical institutions. Beyond their stay at CRI, we hope what would be acquired here will enable them to be catalyzers of change towards collaborative, open approaches in their future structures.

High quality, motivated interns and students

Our hosted top-notch fellows are invited to share their knowledge with our students, and to engage them in their projects as interns and PhDs students. The fellows are free to determine the type and extent of these interactions, shaping them to be most mutually beneficial.

The 200+ strong CRI student body is exceptionally diverse across nearly all axis, but still shares core traits including strong curiosity and inspiring motivation. Starting from 1-week internships in the first year of bachelors to 6-month master internships, our students spend many months in research labs, learning by doing.

Once CRI research reaches full complement of fellows (projected for end 2019), we aim to have them spend at least one of those internships within CRI itself, creating an extremely valuable flux of bright, motivated students, already possessing the core ideas of interdisciplinarity and open science.

Research on research - innovation on research pratices

One of the main CRI missions is not just to do research, but to do research on the research endeavor itself. We are addressing new types of problems, in unexplored intersections of fields and competences, and it is only natural that new approaches and tools are needed and ethical issues are raised and tackled.

The aim to like to answer include how to stimulate collective intelligence on different scales, and how to adapt laboratory structure to recognize the achievements of those who acquire, communicate and collaboratively develop knowledge. In a way, our fellows are both research actors and subjects, thus increasing their takeaway personal capital — when they leave CRI, they will have improved their research practices, learned how to create and sustain meaningful collaborations, and be better scientists as a whole.

Exploration of the uncommon common themes

based on the discussions and challenges put forward during dedicated Advanced workshops

Simultaneously, all scientists who are working on the intersection between life, digital, and learning sciences are welcome at CRI Research Collaboratory.

Scientific Advisory Board
CRI Research Scientific Board advises and guides our research strategy, help select research fellows and provides feedback on CRI activities.
andrew w. murray
Scientific advisory board co-chair
helga nowotny
Scientific advisory board co-chair
leland h. hartwell
Scientific advisory board member
nadia magnenat-thalmann
Scientific advisory board member
rob lue
Scientific advisory board member
robert e. page, jr.
Scientific advisory board member
samir k.brahmachari
Scientific advisory board member
stefan thurner
Scientific advisory board member
tuula teeri
Scientific advisory board member