In Marseille, the Institute of Movement Sciences, between multidisciplinarity and links with the socio-economic world
What are the stages that make up a movement? How does a bee’s way of flying allow it to communicate with its congeners? How can a runner improve his performance? Comment do we hurt ourselves? How to rehabilitate in the most effective way a member who has suffered a trauma? These are all questions to which the sciences of movement strive to answer.
Among the historical figures of the discipline: Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904). ” He is the first to have broken down a movement with what contains the scientific bases of his time. », Says Martine Pithioux, director of the Institute of Movement Sciences to which the scientist gave his name. ” His work has opened up a whole field of study around the understanding of movement using different points of view. “.
In France, several research laboratories are interested in this discipline whose applications can be multiple: health, sport, neurosciences, robotics, biomechanics … The Marseille Institute of Movement Sciences is distinguished by a very marked multidisciplinarity, and this , from its inception.
Multidisciplinarity as DNA
The research unit was created in 2008 following the regrouping of different laboratories. A grouping which then brings together bio-mechanics, physiologists, doctors, psychologists, neuroscientists, but also sociologists. ” The idea was to try, while remaining at the forefront in different fields, to discuss between disciplines to better understand the phenomena that we are studying. “.
With between 160 and 200 people in its workforce, the Institute relies on 9 disciplinary scientific teams and on five experimentation platforms present on four sites (in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence).
Among these platforms, Aixoise, linked to a mechanical IUT, works on the design and development of 3D materials. “ We have several 3D printing systems, up to metallic 3D “.
At Luminy, the Institute has three platforms, one of which is investing in the field of augmented and virtual reality. One of the Institute’s flagship specificities. ” There is a large room with very large screens (3 times 4 meters in front, 3 times 3 meters on the ground) which allow complete immersion by stimulating several senses. Thanks to this, we carry out studies to understand human movements during a sport or other activity. We are also developing new methodologies to solve vertigo problems “.
Nearby, also in Luminy, the Institute relies on Technosport, another laboratory platform. ” It is a large center accessible to students who wish to play sports. They can play football, basketball, or even rock climbing on a 12-meter-high wall … The particularity is that everything is optimized for taking measurements and experimenting in real life. You can put sensors on the ground, as well as under each climbing block. And research experimentation rooms make it possible to carry out more precise analyzes ”.
The Institute also wishes to maintain close links with the clinical world, in particular through another platform present on the sites of La Timone and Sainte-Marguerite hospital. ” Sur y is developing new biomaterials. And since we are within the hospital, we can retrieve patient images to develop implantation devices or personalized surgery assistance. “.
An institute open to the socio-economic world
To finance itself, the Joint Research Unit relies on its supervisory bodies, AMU and CNRS. In addition, there are revenues linked to contracts signed within the framework of local, national or international calls for projects, but also with companies. Among them: sports federations (sailing, skiing, basketball), clubs like the Olympique de Marseille, companies like Nike, Gymnova, or Airbus, SMEs specializing in the development of biomaterials like Graftys, or the National Center of ‘Space studies and the General Directorate of Armament.
” We have long been linked to the business world », In particular through integration into the Carnot Star Sport Bien-être Institute. Relationships that can be found, for example, through theses funded within the framework of industrial research training agreements (Cifre), or industrial chairs with groups such as Stellantis, AG2R or Décathlon.
Open to the socioeconomic world, the Joint Research Unit also wants to gain international influence. “ Between 2017 and 2021, out of 524 publications launched by the Institute, 40% were part of international collaborations, especially in the United States, England, Germany, Canada and Switzerland. Last year, we won a call for projects (ITN) for twenty doctoral students in different countries. But we can go further still. We do not have large European projects such as ERC (European Research Concil) because it takes time. But now we have to go to this “.
Another challenge, and not the least, is to replace researchers who are about to retire. “We have a lot of researchers in our teams who are either at the end of their careers or at the start of their careers and relatively young. Those who retire have a lot of expertise and networks. It would be nice to hire to maintain this strength “.