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INRA research: a human endeavour. © INRA, GAVALDA Véronique

INRA research: a human endeavour

Updated on 04/13/2016
Published on 12/16/2014

On the following pages, you will discover the profiles of some of the men and women who have shaped INRA over the past 70 years.

Through these profiles and interviews, INRA researchers, engineers, and technicians reveal how they view the research process and describe their relationship with the institute and their respect for its values, which they have often helped cultivate. These encounters are also an opportunity to discover the major events that have marked INRA’s history, which is, ultimately, as much about the humans behind the research as the research itself.

“As odd as it may sound, what I enjoy about research is how failure fosters creativity. Whenever you undertake an experiment, there is always a risk that it will fail. […] There is nothing more exciting, of course, than actually discovering something. However, that has happened less than a handful of times in my life!” Charles Thibault, physiologist.

“Sometimes when I am conducting research, I actually end up discovering something that I wasn’t looking for at all. I know that I am not the only scientist to have experienced this, but I find that it tempers our conceit […]. Personally, I am happy to be a researcher because it keeps me humble […].” Suzanne Mériaux, Scientific Director, Environment.

“Research is progressing faster and faster thanks to ever more powerful molecular tools and mathematical models, the development of biological nanotechnologies, and the emergence of synthetic biology. Yes, our quest is to better understand the world. However, it is also necessary to invent new ways of interacting with society based on the answers to some fundamental questions. For instance, do we have the right to research everything or are there certain topics that need to be off limits?” Jean-Paul Renard, cloning expert.

“INRA gives us incredibly free rein while simultaneously guiding us towards applications for our work. The institute strongly promotes science with an impact!” Jean Fioramonti, physiologist.

Some of these profiles were created with the help of INRA’s oral history archives.