ERC IDEM Summer School:

Microbiota, Symbiosis, and Individuality: Conceptual and Philosophical Issues


Most multicellular organisms from plants to animals are host to a vast array of microorganisms. In recent years it has become apparent that the microbiota is not just a silent tenant to the host, but that its presence can shape the development, health and behavior of the host. Thus the question of individuality arises. To what extent does our microbiota influence who we are? And is our microbiota part of ourselves?

From July 1st-5th 2019 the ERC IDEM team organizes a summer school exploring conceptual issues related to Microbiota, Symbiosis and Individuality. 20 young philosophers and biologist will meet to learn, discuss and develop new interdisciplinary approaches.

Course leaders

Yasmine Belkaid, Immunologist and Senior Investigator at the NIH. Her research aims to understand the mechanisms controlling host-microbe interactions at barrier sites such as the skin and the gut.

Scott Gilbert, Professor emeritus at Swarthmore College, he is a specialist of ecological developmental biology, developmental genetics, embryology, and the history and critiques of biology.

Rob Knight (to be confirmed), is a Professor at the University of California, San Diego and the co-founder of the American Gut Project. He is also a co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project, and the founding director of founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation.

Jan-Pieter Konsman is a CNRS investigator in neuroscience (neuroimmunology) at the INCIA lab, Bordeaux, France. He also works in philosophy of science.

Samir Okasha (to be confirmed) is a Professor of philosophy of science at the University of Bristol. His research interestes focus mainly around evolutionary theory and epistemology.

Thomas Pradeu is a Senior CNRS Investigator and in philosophy of science and PI of the ERC IDEM project. He focuses on philosophy of immunology, especially immune-microbiota interactions, developmental biology, and physiology.



Application deadline: March 7th 2019


Send a short CV and a detailed abstract (1500 words) of your project to


MA / MSc / PhD and postdocs in:

    • > Philosophy of Science
    • > Medicine
    • > Biology, including (but not limited to) Developmental biology, Immunology, Microbiology and Neurosciences.


The summer school will be held in the seaside town of Biarritz, in the south of France.


Fee: €250.

Qualified individuals can be exempted from the fee. In some cases the organizers can grant financial support for travel and lodging, provided that no other means of funding exist.

To apply for an exemption or financial support, send a letter of motivation along with your application. Please detail why you would like to participate and why you would like to be exempted / obtain financial support.


The ERC IDEM (“Immunity, DEvelopment, and the Microbiota”) project explores the problem of biological identity at the interface between immunology, microbiology, and developmental biology. It has been funded by the European Union with an ERC starting grant.