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In 1988,  the CEA (Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission) initiated the program "PROTEINE 2000" with a strong emphasize on structural biology. In parallel, the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) initiated the program "IMABIO" (Ingénierie des MAcromolécules BIOlogiques) aimed at developing biomacromolecular engineering. The French governement required the fusion of these two complementary programs, hence, the creation of an institute devoted to structural biology. Founded in January 1992 by the CNRS and the CEA, the Institute for Structural Biology (IBS) is a mixed research unit (Unité Mixte de Recherche, UMR 5075) joined in 1999 by the University Joseph Fourier of Grenoble.

The IBS is thus under the tripartite hierarchical authority of the CNRS, the CEA and the University of Grenoble.


Former building of the IBS (1992-2013)

With the direct proximity of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), most powerful synchrotron in the world at that time and the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), most powerful neutron generator in the world, Grenoble became naturally a keyplace to set the IBS.


Regarding the hierarchical authority of the CNRS, the IBS has a main institute of dependence: the National Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB) and a secondary CNRS institute of dependence: the National Institute of Chemistry (INC).


CNRS researchers working at the IBS are thus either members of the National Institute of Biological Sciences or members of the National Institute of Chemistry, which is my case.

Directors of the IBS

Jean-Pierre EBEL (* 1920 - 1992)

First director of the IBS 1992

  • Member of the French Academy of Sciences (1979)

  • Member of the French Academy of Pharmacy (Paris)

  • Member of the French Academy of Medicine

  • Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  • Knight in the Order of Public Health 
    (today known as National Order of Merit)

Pierre VIGNAIS (* 1926 -  2006)

Director of the IBS 1992-1994

  • CNRS silver medal (1962)

  • Alexandre Joannidès award of the French
    Academy of Sciences (1981)

Gold medal of the CNRS

Michel VAN DER REST (* 1944)

Director of the IBS 1994-2001

  • Scientific director of the CNRS department of Life Sciences (2005-current)

  • Officer of the French Academic Palms (2005)

  • Director of synchrotron SOLEIL (2007 – 2011)

Roland DOUCE (* 1939 -  2018)

Director of the IBS 2001-2004

  • CNRS silver medal (1982)

  • Honorary member of the French Universitary Institute (1992)

  • Member of the French Academy of Sciences (1996)

  • Member of the National Academy of Sciences 
    USA (1997)

  • Officer of the Legion of Honour (2009)

Gold medal of the CNRS

Eva-PEBAY-PEYROULA  (* 1956)

Director of the IBS 2004-2015

  • Member of the French Academy of Sciences

  • CNRS silver medal (2005)

  • Senior member of  French Universitary Institute (2006)

  • Knight of the Legion of Honour (2007)

  • President of the administrative council of the French
    Research Agency -ANR- (2010)

  • Officer in the National Order of Merit (2011)

Gold medal of the CNRS

Winfried WEISSENHORN  (* 1961)

Director of the IBS 2015-today

  • ​Line Renaud award from the French Fondation for Medical Research -FRM- (2011)

  • Senior member of  French Universitary Institute (2012)

The IBS today

Since autumn 2013, the IBS personel moved into a brand new building located on the EPN (European Photon and Neutron) science campus. The ceremony of the foundation stone occured on October 6th, 2011 in presence of the French minister of research.

The VHEP (very high energetic performance) building consists in a ground + 4 floors for 9342 m² net gross floor area and 5623 m² floor surface for a total cost of 21.6 M€.


The IBS is made of  many researchers, engineers and technicians, administrative personel, post-docs, Ph.D. students and trainees, for a who work at developing knowledges of structural and functional biology with cutting-edge facilities and expertize in NMR, electron & optical microscopy and X-ray crystallography.


I'm personaly member of the PIXEL team, in the I2SR group interested in integrated structural cell biology.

The efforts of the IBS in integrated structural biology are supported by its participation to the Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB) along with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL Grenoble), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL). This strong interaction on the EPN campus make the PSB one the important member of the European infrastructure of integrated structural biology InstructVia the ISBG (Integrated Structural Biology Grenoble), the IBS is thus part of one of the two French Instruct centers, itself member of the EquipEx (Equipments of Excellence) named FRISBI (French Infrastructure for Integrated Structural Biology). 

This involvment allowed the creation of the Mixed Service Unit (UMS 3518) in 2013.
The IBS is also awardee along with the former Unit of Virus-Host Cell Interactions (UVHCI) and the former Institut de recherche en technologies et sciences pour le vivant (iRTSV, today IRIG) of one of the 8 LabEx (Laboratories of Excellence) grants won by Grenoble (100 for the whole country). This LabEx project named GRAL (Grenoble Alliance for Integrated Structural Cell Biology) is situated at the interface between structural and cell biology and is aimed at understanding the complexity of biological processes in living organisms.

The dream of an integrated structural biology is ultimately to correlate informations obtained by structural biology with other cell biology techniques so that a global vision of cellular events can be understood in details, as represented in the video below.

PALM realignment

Virgile Adam realigning the PALM setup

Total staff (as of July, 1st 2022): 282

Permanent staff: 182

  • CNRS researchers: 44

  • CEA researchers: 42

  • University researchers: 29

  • INSERM researchers: 2

  • Hospital researcher: 1

  • CNRS engineers/technicians/administratives (ITA): 32

  • CEA engineers/technicians/administratives (ITA): 23

  • University engineers/technicians/administratives (ITA): 8

  • Other engineers/technicians/administratives (ITA): 1


Non-permanent staff: 100

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