General overview of life sciences teaching at ESPCI Paris

Life sciences are among the core courses of the two first years in the engineering curriculum of ESPCI Paris, just like physics or chemistry. Teachings aim at providing the essential bases required to understand living organisms, at all levels of complexity (molecular, cellular, pluricellular, up to the whole organism, see figure 1).

The ultimate goal is to equip our student with the relevant multidisciplinary knowledge and to open their view to such interdisciplinary domains as biotechnologies, biophysics, bio-imaging or biomedical engineering.

Teachings use both theoretical and practical approaches, in the guise of lectures, preceptorates and lab sessions. After the common core of the first two years, the 3rd year offers four tracks, including a biotechnology/bioengineering one, which allow students to start specializing.

They generally follow up with a fourth year, most often as a Master (M2). A large number of Masters, scientific or not, are accessible to the students. Some of these Masters are organized jointly by the ESPCI Paris, among which one track of the BioMedical Engineering Master created jointly by ParisTech engineering schools and Université Paris Descartes.

First year biology teaching

The first-year biology course is designed to provide students with a general biological culture that allows them to read biology articles in general scientific journals at the end of the year. Teaching is organized in lectures (26h), practical work (45h), tutorials (8h) and tutorials (8h), allowing students to familiarize themselves with the general concepts of the living world. The lecture emphasizes the epistemological aspect of fundamental biological experiments. The practical work gives the student the opportunity to become familiar with the tools of molecular biology and biochemistry as it is practiced today in the research laboratories.

    • Tutorials : Yann Verdier(Responsible), Pascale Dupuis-Williams et Alice Pavlowsky
Second year physiology teaching

Physiology is the study of the main integrated functions of the organism, notably the mechanisms allowing the maintenance of the metastable equilibirum that characterizes living organisms as open systems (homeostasis concept), e.g. the asymmetrical repartition of ions on either side of the plasma membrane, or, at a completely different scale, the control of blood glucose levels, or arterial pressure.

Physiology teachings include lectures (14h), three 2h-sessions of preceptorates (analyses of scientific papers, as in Biology) and 6 lab sessions.

They provide an evolution towards a more integrated view relative to first-year molecular and cellular biology. They also allow to open, by frequent links to a medical perspective, a transdisciplinary field of studies : bio-engineering, and in particular biomedical engineering.

    • Teaching staff :

- Physiology practical course : S. Pezet, T. Gallopin, A. Klarsfeld (Responsibles, Brain Plasticity Unit), K Benchenane
- Preceptors of Physiology : Responsibles S. Pezet et T. Gallopin.

    • Tutors involved in preceptors :

- Brain Plasticity Unit staff : S. Pezet, T. Gallopin, K Benchenane, Julie Lefort, PY Plaçais, Z. Lenkei
- Researchers outside the laboratory : A. Reaux-Le-Gazigo (Institute of Vision), B. Lambolez et L. Tricoire (CNRS UMR 8246, UPMC).

Members of the Brain Plasticity Laboratory are also involved in one-week teaching units organized for Paris Science et Lettres Research University, which are part of the second year at ESPCI Paris : « Biology as a fine playground for engineers », « Drugs and pathologies », « Time ».

Third year biology teaching

A specialization course in biotechnology is offered to students of the 3rd year. This course, situated at the interface between biology and physics, and biology and chemistry, draws on the knowledge acquired in biology during the first two years.

Biology curricula corresponding to a 4th year

The M2 track « Bioengineering and Innovation in Neurosciences » du Master BioMedical Engineering is organized jointly by ESPCI Paris (André Klarsfeld : co-chair) and the UniversityParis Descartes (Pierre-Paul Vidal : co-chair), with the participation of Arts et Métiers ParisTech.

It is an international Master, with all classes in English. Karim Benchenane and François Vialatte are chairs of teaching units « A window into the brain » et « Brain-Computer Interfaces », respectivement.

Diana Zala is responsible for the lab sessions of an optional teaching unit « Miniaturization for neurosciences ».


Practical information

Unit Director
Thomas Preat
thomas.preat (arobase)

Administrator chief
Stéphanie Ledoux
stephanie.ledoux (arobase)

Tu-Khanh Nguyen
tu-khanh.nguyen (arobase)

Phone : +33 (0) 1 40 79 43 02

To contact us