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Research areas

Health and life sciences

Published on 29 June 2016

​Medical imaging, structural biology, large-scale biology, chemistry and labelling, computer-assisted surgery, etc. The CEA combines basic biological research with cutting-edge technologies to contribute to advances in knowledge and provide solutions in a field with high societal challenges: health.

The CEA's health and life sciences research

Radiobiology and toxicology

Radiobiology and toxicology

The CEA’s radiobiology and toxicology research is multidisciplinary and concerns the characterisation of the effects on humans and on the environment of ionising radiation (radiobiology) and radionuclides (nuclear toxicology), and also of nanoparticles (nano-toxicology), in response to their increasing use in energy processes.

The radiobiology work being carried out focuses in particular on the consequences for somatic stem cells and germ cells of exposure to low doses of ionising radiation, on individual radiosensitivity, and on new developments in radiotherapy. It contributes to the updating of standards on the radiation protection of workers in the nuclear industry and on the judicious use of medical radiotherapy.

In toxicology, the aim is to study what happens to radionuclides, together with their health and environmental impacts, and those of the nanomaterials and chemical compounds used in the technologies developed by the CEA. These studies help to develop well thought-out standards of protection and to devise new methods for remedial action and decorporation.


(cancers, infectious and
neurodegenerative diseases)

The researchers at the CEA have developed a high degree of technological expertise and have access to imaging and high-speed screening facilities, to the instruments and equipment required for structural biology and large-scale biology, and to preclinical study platforms. They can therefore cover the analysis of living organisms on several scales (from molecule, cell and organ level through to the whole organism) and can study both normal and pathological biological phenomena.

For example, integrated structural biology studies the architecture and dynamics of macromolecules, cells and organs. In addition, the “omics” (genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, etc.) provide information on the quantitative and qualitative variations in cell components during a normal or pathological event.

The CEA’s researchers are thus helping to advance fundamental knowledge of how cells work and the mechanisms that can change certain physiological processes to pathological states.  This type of information can be used to identify therapeutic or diagnostic strategies.

Innovative diagnostics and therapies

Innovative diagnostics
and therapies

The CEA draws on its fundamental knowledge base and on its technological developments to propose innovative approaches in the fields of diagnostics, therapy and vaccinology. Researchers approach this work from several angles: the search for biomarkers for use in early diagnosis and therapeutic follow-up, the search for targets and the development of new therapeutic (molecule, cell or gene based) or vaccine-based strategies. The efficacy and safety of new treatments are assessed in preclinical studies. This work has the benefit of the CEA’s expertise in leading-edge technologies (high-speed screening, large scale biology, imaging, etc.) and the high-level research infrastructures set up by the CEA (MIRCen and NeurAtris for translational research in neuroscience and biological therapies, NeuroSpin and France Life Imaging for biomedical imaging, and IDMIT for preclinical research in infectiology).

Patients with neurodegenerative, neuro-inflammatory, cardiovascular, infectious, metabolic or genetic disorders will benefit from these therapeutic innovations.



The CEA’s work in the field of nanomedicine focuses on a number of areas: diagnostics, leading to the identification of a disease by detecting specific symptoms of the pathology; therapy, involving specific treatment of a disease; regenerative medicine, the objective of which is to regenerate damaged human tissue or organs; and systems of sensors, comprising sets of interfaces detecting a physical phenomenon as an electrical signal, in order to represent and acquire data on that phenomenon.