The Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires – CRI) in Paris was founded in 2005 as a convivial place at the crossroad of life sciences and exact, natural, cognitive, and social sciences. Today, the CRI offers three degree programs integrated in the Bettencourt curriculum: an undergraduate program (Licence Frontières du Vivant, FdV, Paris-Descartes University), a masters program (Interdisciplinary Approaches to Life Sciences, AIV Master, Paris-Descartes University, Paris-Diderot University), and a doctoral program (Frontiers of Life, Ecole doctorale 474 Frontières du Vivant, FdV). The CRI’s dedicated facilities host visiting professors, a variety of courses, and many student clubs. The CRI’s main role is to promote new educational techniques and strategies to empower the students to take initiative and develop their own research projects. Mentors, research institutions, private companies, and foundations, such as the Bettencourt Foundation, provide the support for the student-created research projects and activities. The aforementioned activities range from the first French synthetic biology team (iGEM Paris Bettencourt, for the MIT-sponsored iGEM (international genetically engineered machine) competition) to the Paris-Montagne Science Festival, and the Science Académie, an outreach program that allows high schools students from underprivileged neighborhoods to discover their creativity in science. The CRI also hosts the laboratory facilities of the U1001 unit of the French National Institute of Health & Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris-Descartes University’s Medical School. During 2012 and 2013, the CRI activities have expanded with the following new projects:
- The new Institute for Learning Through Research (Institut Innovant de Formation par la Recherche – IIFR Paris Descartes / PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité) was inaugurated in March 2012 by the International Scientific Committee of the National Innovative Training Program (IDEFI) of the French Ministry of Research. The IIFR organizes different workshops, Ph.D. courses, an executive program and it will launch a new Master Program in September 2014. In September 2013, the IIFR activities were awarded a UNESCO Chair for “Learning science”.
- The Citizen Cyberlab European Consortium (citizen science) was launched in September 2012 with funding from the EU 7th Framework.
- Knowledge adventures for kids / Savanturiers: these scientific workshops in Parisian primary schools (children 9-10 years old) began in September 2013, in partnership with the City of Paris.
- In July 2013, the CRI was also selected by the City of Paris to design and develop an innovative MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) that will launch its first projects in 2014.
The rapid growth of the CRI led in 2013 to the search of new facilities to welcome all the new members of the CRI team: part of the team (dry lab) moved to a new building located at 8-10 rue Charles V at Paris 4e, while the U1001 Inserm lab team and the wet lab activities remained in the Faculty of Medicine at Paris 14e – Port Royal. The CRI cofounders, François Taddei and Ariel Lindner, have produced many publications in general-interest scientific journals, and their research endeavors have been recognized by several awards. François Taddei is a member of various working groups on the future of research and education (France 2025, OECD report, etc.), and he has been nominated at the French High Council for Education in 2012.