Conceptual Biology & Medicine
The goal of our interdisciplinary team is to offer an enriched conceptualization, explanation, and modelling of biological processes. We reach this aim through what we call « Philosophy in biology », an innovative way to combine the contributions of philosophy of biology, experimental biology, and medical biology. We are focused first and foremost on the immune system, cancer, aging, and the microbiota (particularly through our ERC-funded IDEM project), but we also work on conceptual issues related to evolutionary biology, ecology, developmental biology, physiology, and the medical sciences in general.
Our team currently works on four main projects:
Within Thomas Pradeu’s ERC Starting Grant project (2015-2020), entitled “IDEM” (for “Immunology, Development, and the Microbiota: Understanding the Continuous Construction of the Organism”), we aim at understanding how the microbiota is involved in the construction and maintenance of the host organism.
IDEM consists of four areas:
In total, 4 were hired in this project. For further information, please visit the ERC IDEM’s webpage.
In collaboration with medical doctors of the Pellegrin Hospital, we formed two teams working on the microbiota: one works on immune-microbiota interactions; the other organizes meetings with internal and external speakers.
We attempt to propose a refined definition of the notion of tumor microenvironment, at the interface between cancer biology, developmental biology, immunology, and studies on angiogenesis.
We also explore the concept of cancer as a process of decohesion of the multicellular individual, an idea that combines cancer biology, immunology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and ecology. We investigate the role of the immune system as a system that maintains the cohesion of the biological individual, and how this process is disturbed in cancer.
Cancer is one of the diseases that come with aging. At the epidemiological level, age is the most ‘explanatory’ factor of most cancers. However, this remains vague and elusive at the biological level. Which processes are associated with an increasing risk of cancer? We look for a conceptually precise theory of aging that would help understand the patterns of incidence of cancer. Beyond that, we hope this theory to be able to also account for patterns of incidence of other diseases.
We have received funding from the Siric BRIO and we are part of the program “Intercellular COMMUnication in CANcer biology and Therapy” (COMMUCAN).
Currently we are participating in the construction of a new LabEX CANCER, which will be directed by Julie Déchanet-Merville.
People from other labs involved: Andreas Bikfalvi (Inserm), Lucie Laplane (IHPST & IGR).
Philosophers of medicine have investigated the broader framework of concepts of health and disease, with very general terms such as ‘function’ and ‘dysfunction’, ‘reference class’, ’norms’, ‘risk factor’, and the like. They have not investigated so much the more specific concepts of the biological sciences of health and disease, such as ‘homeostasis’, ‘robustness’ or ‘regulation’.
More specifically, we focus on the strong association, at the population level, of the process of aging and the incidence of diseases. To do that, we investigate concepts such as ‘antagonistic pleiotropy’, ’senescence’, ‘intrinsic factor of death’, and explanatory hypotheses, models and theories of aging.
This project is coordinated by Maël Lemoine, Professor at the University of Bordeaux.
Our team is a pillar of the Institute for Philosophy in Biology and Medicine (PhilInBioMed), an interdisciplinary institute located at the University of Bordeaux, France, and a national and international network of interdisciplinary institutes. PhilInBioMed aims at promoting philosophy in the biological and medical sciences.
Institute for Philosophy in Biology and Medicine (PhilInBioMed)
More information here.
Contact: Thomas Pradeu
Philosophy and Biology Seminar in Bordeaux
The Microbiota seminar explores conceptual, theoretical, experimental, and medical issues concerning research on the microbiota.
Contact: Thomas Pradeu
Twice a month, a member of the team presents their work.
> Leonardo BICH (Now Ramon y Cajal senior researcher at the University of the Basque Country, Spain)
- > Imane BARBARA (Project Manager)
- > Wiebke BRETTING (Now Project Manager in a Bordeaux hospital-hosted project)
> Katarzyna HOOKS (Now Postdoctoral researcher)
> Valérie JOLIVEL (Now Associate Professor of Biology in Strasbourg)
> Paôline LAURENT (Now Postdoctoral researcher in New York)
> Maureen O’MALLEY (Now Senior researcher at the University of Sydney)
> Derek SKILLINGS (Now Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UNC Greensboro, USA)
- Mina BISSELL, Professor of Biology, University of Berkeley, USA.
- Peter GODFREY-SMITH, Professor in Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, Australia
- Deborah GORDON, Professor of Biology, Stanford University, USA
- Paul GRIFFITHS, Professor in Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, Australia
- Fridolin GROSS, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Kassel, Germany
- Valerie HARDCASTLE, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, University of Cincinnati, USA
- Alberto MANTOVANI, Professor of Medicine, Humanitas, Italy.
- Jacob STEGENGA, Lecturer in Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, UK
- Adrian STENCEL, PhD Student Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
- Martin ZACH (visiting PhD student from Oct.-Dec. 2019 and will be an EPSA Fellow in our team in the near future)
- Javier SUAREZ, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Bielefeld, Germany
- Khelfaoui M., Gingras Y., Lemoine L., Pradeu T. (2021), The visibility of philosophy of science in the sciences, 1980-2018, Synthese.
- Gayon J. & Pradeu T. (eds., 2021), Textes Clés en Philosophie de la Biologie, Tome 1 : Explication biologique, hérédité, développement. Paris, Vrin.
- Lemoine M. (2021) Is the Dysfunction Component of the “Harmful Dysfunction Analysis” Stipulative? In: L. Faucher and Forest D. (eds) Defining mental disorder: Jerome Wakefield and his critics. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, pp 199–212 (open access)
- Lemoine M. (2020), Defining aging. Biology & Philosophy 35: 46 (preprint)
- Paludan S.R., Pradeu T., Masters S., Mogensen T. (2020), Constitutive immune mechanisms: mediators of host defence and immune regulation. Nature Reviews Immunology. (Open access).
- Greslehner G. (2020), Not by structures alone: Can the immune system recognize microbial functions? Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. (Open access).
- Ronai I., Greslehner G., et al. (2020), Microbiota, symbiosis and individuality Summer School Meeting Report, Microbiome 8, 117 (Report on ERC IDEM summer school in Biarritz). (Open access)
- Greslehner G. (2020), Microbiome Structure and Function: A New Framework for Interpreting Data. BioEssays.
- Richez C., Lazaro E., Lemoine M.,Truchetet ME., Schaeverbeke T. (2020), Implications of COVID-19 for the management of patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Joint Bone Spine 87, 187–189.
- Chiu L. & Gilbert S. (2020), Niche construction and the transition to herbivory: Phenotype switching and the organization of new nutritional modes. In Levine et al. (eds.), Phenotypic Switching: Implications in Biology and Medicine. London, Academic Press, 459-482.
- Belzung, C., Billette de Villemeur, E. and Lemoine, M. (2020): Mechanistic vs Statistical Extrapolation in Preclinical Research in Psychiatry: Challenging the Received View, in A. LaCaze and B. Osimani (eds), Uncertainty in Pharmacology, Vol. 338 Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 79–100 (The chapter as open access)
- Greslehner G. and Lemoine M. (2020), A dual decomposition strategy of both microbial and phenotypic components for a better understanding of causal claims. Biology & Philosophy 35:1.
- Guay A. & Pradeu T. (2020), Right out of the box: How to situate metaphysics of science in relation to other metaphysical approaches. Synthese, 197, 1847–1866. In special issue on “New Metaphysics of Science” edited by Max Kistler. (PDF of final draft).
- Pradeu T. (2019), Philosophy of Immunology. Cambridge University Press, Elements in Philosophy of Biology Series (Open Access).
- Rondeau E., Larmonier N., Pradeu T., Bikfalvi A. (co-senior authors) (2019) Philosophy of Biology: Characterizing causality in cancer. eLife 8:e53755. (Open Access).
- Laplane L., Duluc D., Bikfalvi A, Larmonier N., and Pradeu T. (2019), Beyond the tumour microenvironment. International Journal of Cancer 145(10), 2611-2618. (Open Access).
- Pradeu T. (2019), Philosophy of Biology: Immunology and individuality, eLIFE 8:e47384. (Open Access).
- Laplane L.,
- Bich L., Pradeu T., and Moreau J-F. (2019), Understanding Multicellularity: The Functional Organization of the Intercellular Space. Frontiers in Physiology 10:1170 (Open Access)
- Pradeu T. & Moreau J-F. (2019), CRISPR-Cas immunity: Beyond nonself and defence. Biology & Philosophy 34(6). (PDF of final draft).
- Laplane L., Duluc D., Larmonier N., Pradeu T. & Bikfalvi A. [co-senior authors] (2018), The Multiple Layers of the Tumor Environment. Trends in Cancer 4, 802–809. (PDF of final draft)
- Lemoine M. & Pradeu T. (2018), Dissecting the meanings of ‘Physiology’ to assess the vitality of the discipline. Physiology 33(4), 236-245. (Open Access PDF) (PDF of final draft).
- Pradeu T. & Du Pasquier L. (2018), Immunological memory: What’s in a name? Immunological Reviews 283(1) (Special Issue: Immunologic Memory), 7-20. (PDF of final draft).
- Giroux É., Lemoine M. (2018), Philosophy of Medicine, chapter in The Philosophy of Science: A Companion, Oxford University Press
- Pradeu, T. (2018), Philosophy of Biology, chapter in The Philosophy of Science: A Companion, Oxford University Press
- O’Malley M.A. (2018), The Experimental Study of Bacterial Evolution and Its Implications for the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary Biology, J Hist Biol. 2018 Jun;51(2):319-354
- Truchetet M-E. & Pradeu T. (2018), Re-thinking our understanding of immunity: Robustness in the tissue reconstruction system. Seminars in Immunology 36, 45-55. (PDF of final draft).
- Eberl G. & Pradeu T. (2018), Towards a General Theory of Immunity? Trends in Immunology 39 (4), 261-263.
- Lemoine M. (2018), On the neurobiological redefinition of psychiatric symptoms: elimination, reduction, or what?, Synthese, online (doi: 10.1007/s11229-016-1270-2).
- Pradeu T. (2018), Genidentity and Biological Processes, in Nicholson, D. J. & Dupré, J. (eds.). Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- O’Malley M. A., Skillings D. J. (2018), Methodological strategies in microbiome research and their explanatory implications, Perspectives on Science 26(2): 239–265.
- Bich L. & Green S. (2018), Is defining life pointless? Operational definitions at the frontiers of biology. Synthese 195, 3919–3946.
- Lemoine M. (2017), Neither from words, nor from vision: understanding p-medicine from innovative treatments, Lato sensu 4(2). (Open Access).
- Chiu L., Bazin T. (co-first authors), Truchetet M-E., Schaeverbeke T., Delhaes L. & Pradeu T. (2017), Protective Microbiota: From Localized to Long-Reaching Co-Immunity. Frontiers in Immunology, December 2017, Volume 8, Article 1678. (Open Access).
- Hooks K.B. & O’Malley M. (2017) Dysbiosis and Its Discontents. mBio 8:e01492-17. (Open Access).
- Ferner A. & Pradeu T. (eds., (2017) Special issue on “Ontologies of Living Beings“, Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology, Volume 9. Editorial by A. Ferner & T. Pradeu. Contributors to this special issue: Stéphane Chauvier, Melinda Fagan, Fridolin Gross & Sara Green, Catherine Kendig & Todd Eckdahl, Rory Madden, John Perry, and Christopher Shields. (Open Access).
- Laurent P., Jolivel V., Manicki P., Chiu L., Cotin-Bordes C., Truchetet M-E. & Pradeu. T. (co-senior authors) (2017), Immune-Mediated Repair: A Matter of Plasticity. Frontiers in Immunology, April 2017, Volume 8, Article 454. (Open Access).
- Pradeu T. (2017), Thirty years of Biology & Philosophy: Philosophy of which biology? Biology & Philosophy 32(2), 149–167. (PDF of final draft).
- Lemoine M. (2017), Animal Extrapolation in Preclinical Studies. An analysis of the tragic case of TGN1412, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science, 61, 35-45.
- Lemoine M. (2017), Introduction à la philosophie des sciences médicales, Hermann, Paris.
- Moreau J-F., Pradeu T., Grignolio A., Nardini C., Castiglione F., Tieri P., Capri M., Salvioli S., Taupin J-L., Garagnani P. & Franceschi C. (2017), The re-emerging role of ECM crosslinking in T cell mobility as a hallmark of immunosenescence. Ageing Research Reviews 35, 322–335. (Open Access).
- Furman D., Chang J., Lartigue L., Bolen C.R., Haddad F., Gaudilliere B., Ganio E.A., Fragiadakis G.K., Spitzer M.H., Douchet I., Daburon S., Moreau J.F., Nolan G.P., Blanco P., Déchanet-Merville J., Dekker C.L., Jojic V., Kuo C.J., Davis M.M., & Faustin B. (2017), Expression of specific inflammasome gene modules stratifies older individuals into two extreme clinical and immunological states. Nature Medicine 23, 174-184.
- Marlin R, Pappalardo A, Kaminski H, Willcox CR, Pitard V, Netzer S, Khairallah C, Lomenech AM, Harly C, Bonneville M, Moreau JF, Scotet E, Willcox BE, Faustin B and Dechanet-Merville J. (2017), Sensing of cell stress by human γδ TCR-dependent recognition of Annexin A2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 114, 3163-3168.
- Howard J, Loizon S, Tyler CJ, Duluc D, Moser B, Mechain M, Duvingnaud A, Malvy D, Troye-Blomberg M, Moreau JF, Eberl M, Mercereau-Puijlon O, Dechanet-Merville J, Behr C and Mamani-Matsuda M. (2017), The antigen presenting potential of Vγ9Vδ2 T cells during Plasmodium falciparum blood stage infection. Journal of infectious Diseases, accepted for publication DOI : 10.1093/infdis/jix149.
- Lemoine MP. (2016) Extrapolation from animal model of depressive disorders: what’s lost in translation?, in S. Demazeux & J. Wakefield (eds), Sadness or Depression? International Perspectives on the Depression Epidemic and Its Meaning, Springer, 157-172.
- Lemoine M. & Giroux E. (2016) Is Boorse’s Biostatistical Theory of Health naturalistic?, in E. Giroux (ed), Naturalism in philosophy of health: challenges, issues and implications, Springer, 19-38.
- Lemoine M. (2016) « Molecular complexity: Why has psychiatry not been revolutionized by genomics (yet)? », in G. Boniolo & M. Nathan (eds.), Foundational Issues in Molecular Medicine, Routledge, London, 81-99.
- Lemoine M. (2016) « Explanation in Medicine », in M. Solomon, H. Kincaid and J. Simon (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine, Routledge, New York, 296-310.
- Pradeu T., Laplane L., Prévot K., Hoquet T., Reynaud V., Fusco G., Minelli A., Orgogozo V., Vervoort M. (2016), Defining “Development”, Current Topics in Developmental Biology, Volume 117, Pages 171-183
- Pradeu T. (2016), Editorial introduction: The many faces of biological individuality. Special issue on biological individuality, T. Pradeu, ed., Biology & Philosophy 31(6), 761-773.
- Pradeu T. (2016), Organisms or biological individuals? Combining physiological and evolutionary individuality. Biology and Philosophy 31(6), 797–817.
- Chiu L. & Eberl G. (2016), Microorganisms as scaffolds of host individuality: an eco-immunity account of the holobiont. Biology and Philosophy 31(6), 819-837.
- Skillings D. (2016), Holobionts and the ecology of organisms: Multi-species communities or integrated individuals? Biology & Philosophy 31(6), 875-892.
- Pradeu T. & Vivier E. (2016), The Discontinuity Theory of Immunity, Science Immunology Vol. 1, Issue 1, pp. aag0479.
- Bich, L. and Moreno, A. (2016). The role of regulation in the origin and synthetic modelling of minimal cognition. BioSystems, 148, 12-21.
- Bich, L., Mossio, M., Ruiz-Mirazo, K. and Moreno, A. (2016). Biological regulation: controlling the system from within. Biology & Philosophy, 31(2), 237-265
- Guay A. & Pradeu T. (eds.) (2016) Individuals Across the Sciences. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Pradeu T. (2016), Mutualistic viruses and the heteronomy of life, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 59, 80-88.
- Pradeu T., Kostyrka G., and Dupré J (2016), Understanding viruses: Philosophical investigations, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 59, 57-63.
- O’Malley MA (2016). The ecological virus. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 59: 71–79.
- O’Malley MA (2016), Microbiology, philosophy and education, FEMS Microbiology Letters, Volume 363, Issue 17
- O’Malley MA, Wideman JG, Ruiz-Trillo I. (2016), Losing complexity: The role of simplification in macroevolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31: 608–621.
- O’Malley MA (2016), Reproduction expanded: Multigenerational and multilineal units of evolution, Philosophy of Science.
- Pradeu, T., (2016), Toolbox murders: putting genes in their epigenetic and ecological contexts. Biol Philos 31, 125–142
Selection of Past Publications
- Lemoine M. (2013), Defining disease beyond conceptual analysis: an analysis of conceptual analysis in philosophy of medicine. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 34(4), 309-325.
- Pradeu T., Jaeger S., Vivier E. (2013), The Speed of Change: Towards a Discontinuity Theory of Immunity? Nature Reviews Immunology 13, 764–769.
- Pradeu T. (2012), The Limits of the Self: Immunology and Biological Identity. New York: Oxford University Press (2015 Lakatos Award)
- Pradeu T., Cooper E.L. (2012), The Danger Theory: Twenty Years Later. Frontiers in Immunology 3: 287.
- Belzung C., Lemoine M. (2011), Criteria of validity for animal models of psychiatric disorders: focus on anxiety disorders and depression. Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders 1: 9 (Open Access).
- Pradeu T. (2010), What is an organism? An immunological answer. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32: 247-268.
- Pradeu T. & Carosella E.D. (2006), On the definition of a criterion of immunogenicity. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences USA (PNAS), 103(47): 17858-61.
- Carosella E.D., Pradeu T. (2006), Transplantation and Identity: A Dangerous Split. The Lancet 368(9531): 183-184.
- Moreau J-F. et al. (1988), Leukaemia inhibitory factor is identical to the myeloid growth factor human interleukin for DA cells. Nature 336, 690-692.