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HEALTH: Ecology and Evolution (SEE)


The world faces change at scale and speed without precedent. This change is highlighted by two major crises; an ecological crisis, marked by a massive reduction of biodiversity, and a health crisis, marked by the emergence and re-emergence of pathogens. The study of the direct and indirect links between the environment, ecosystems and etiological agents responsible for human and animal disease is a rapidly expanding field of research.

All forms of environmental management have consequences, whether desired or not, which are favourable for some species and detrimental or neutral for others. When management favours a species playing a major role in the completion of a pathogen’s life cycle, the latter also benefits from the style of management.

In this framework it is necessary to develop ecosystem management policies favourable to the maintenance of biodiversity, while taking into account the risk of pathogen transmission to human and animal populations, and setting this in the context of climate change. This research requires close collaboration among health ecologists, conservation biologists and all the actors involved in public and animal health. Furthermore, the application of ecological and evolutionary sciences to human health problems goes well beyond the context of infectious diseases and ecosystems, as illustrated by the increasing popularity of evolutionary medicine.

The major axes of research of the SEE team are set in this scientific landscape of ecological and evolutionary sciences. Together the themes tackled go from modelling theory and data to the community biology of pathogens, taking in genomics, genetics and experimentation. Pertinent ecosystems in northern and southern hemispheres will be studied.

The SEE team is structured into six Functional Scientific Entities (ESF) that are simultaneously autonomous and interactive. This is the philosophy of SEE: the autonomy of young researchers is key for scientific innovation and the development of their career. Each ESF develops its own research programme with its own funding, but it also interaction with other ESFs within the SEE and other teams within the MIVEGEC.


I. ESF GAP (Genetics and Adaptation of Pathogens). Coordonateur : Franck Prugnolle

Research mainly focus is on the origin, form and the genetic consequences of the transfer of Plasmodium falciparum to humans

II. ESF EZV (Emergence of Viral Zoonoses). Coordonateur : Pierre Becquart

The research program focuses on the ecology and evolution of viral and bacterial communities found in human and animal populations of the tropical rain forests in Central Africa

III. ESF TVE (Transmission of Emerging Viruses). Coordonateur : Dorothée Missé

The main goal of the group is to understand interactions among emerging viruses and their hosts

IV. ESF ETE : Evolution, Theory and Experiments. Coordinator : Samuel Alizon

The team mainly studies the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions through mathematical models and experiments

V. ESF DBS (Biological Diversity and Health). Coordonateur : Sylvie Hurtrez-Bousses

This group aims at combining health surveillance and the monitoring of environmental change by forming health-biodiversity observatories, the principal of which will be the Camargue

VI. ESF CME (Cancer and Evolutionary Medicine). Coordonateur : Frédéric Thomas

The World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledges 20% of cancers are due to infectious agents, especially RNA and DNA viruses and bacteria



SEE publications