Immunity, DEvelopment, and the Microbiota (IDEM): Understanding the Continuous Construction of Biological Identity
IDEM is an ERC-funded project (2015-2020) located at the interface between philosophy of biology and biology. Hosted by the CNRS in Bordeaux, France, IDEM is conducted by Thomas Pradeu.
IDEM (“Immunity, DEvelopment, and the Microbiota”) explores the problem of biological identity at the interface between immunology, microbiology, and developmental biology.
Biological Identity at the Crossroads
The problem of biological identity (what counts as one individual organism, and what makes each individual organism the “same” though it constantly changes through time?) has a long history both in philosophy and in science. Recent data coming from immunology, microbiology and developmental biology may revolutionize our conception of the construction of biological identity through time, by showing that this construction depends crucially on environmental factors and, most importantly, on a constant dialogue with symbiotic microorganisms integrated into the organism (the “microbiota”).
IDEM aims at exploring how research done on the microbiota at the interface between developmental biology, microbiology and immunology impacts our conception of biological identity, and providing a new understanding of the way living things are continuously constructed through time and interact with their biotic environment.
A fundamentally interdisciplinary project at the crossroads of philosophy and biology:
Funding and opportunities
- ERC project IDEM has received €1,454,000 in financing.
- This funding will make it possible to hire 4 postdocs and 1 PhD, and to ensure to all IDEM members that they will have excellent working conditions: a desk and all office facilities, online access to journals, the possibility to be involved in lab experiments, the opportunity to spend several months in world-leading partner labs (CIML, Pasteur Institute, Marine station of Villefranche), funds to participate in international conferences and workshops, etc.
- IDEM research is done mainly at the University of Bordeaux, France, and more precisely in the Immunology Lab, which is part of the College of Health Sciences. Though IDEM’s focus is first and foremost on the domain of philosophy of biology, it will benefit greatly from its direct environment, which is one of the most important communities of biologists and medical doctors in France.
- The research team will gather twice a month, to make possible a close oversight of the PhD student and post-docs and to develop constant synergies. It is expected that the PhD student and post-docs involved in IDEM will finish the project with excellent CVs and wide international recognition, with at least 2 co-authored papers (with scientists and/or philosophers), and 2 single-authored papers.
- The team will benefit from regular interactions with excellent philosophers (both locally and internationally), and, perhaps more originally, excellent scientists and medical doctors.
IDEM examines four main themes.
- > Identity, internalism and externalism in the biological sciences
- > Disentangling the causes of development
- > The “holobiont” and its construction through the integration of microbes
- > The role of the immune system in the maintenance and construction of the organism
Each theme will be explored by one or several team members (postdocs/PhD), under the supervision of Thomas Pradeu (principal investigator).
All team members will be normally based at the University of Bordeaux with the PI, but they will spend at least six months in a partner scientific lab of outstanding international reputation, under the supervision of the lab head.
A workshop will be organized every year, one on each of the four sub-projects.
- A summer school, probably devoted to “The interactions between development and immunity in the microbiota era”, will be organized at the end of Year 4.
- On the fifth year an international conference will be the occasion to present the results of IDEM to a wide scientific community.
Save the date: July 1-5 2019
Summer school on: 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?
This summer school is open to young philosophers of science as well as young biology researchers, especially from the fields of development, immunology, microbiology, and the neurosciences.
More details to be announced soon.
- Eric Vivier (CIML, Marseille-Luminy, France)
- Gérard Eberl (Microenvironment and Immunity Lab, Pasteur Institute, Paris, France)
- Evelyn Houliston (Developmental Biology Lab, Marine station of Villefranche-sur-Mer, France)
- Scott Gilbert (Swarthmore College, USA, and Helsinki Evo-Devo Lab, University of Helsinki, Finland)
- Alessandro Minelli (University of Padova, Italy)
- Michel Vervoort (Paris-Diderot University, France).
- John Dupré (University of Exeter, UK)
- Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY, USA)
- Alan Love (University of Minnesota, USA)
- Jim Griesemer (UC Davis, USA)
- Elliott Sober (University of Wisconsin Madison, USA)
- Ellen Clarke (All Souls, Oxford University, UK)
- Marc Ereshefsky (University of Calgary, Canada)
- At IHPST (Paris): Jean Gayon, Philippe Huneman, Max Kistler
- Melinda Fagan
- Matt Haber
- Sara Green
- Direct collaborations will be developed with the “Philosophy of Developmental Biology” group, initiated by Thomas Pradeu in 2009.