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Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology

The primary objective of the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology is the identification and characterization of novel therapeutic targets in the fields of cancer and infectious diseases.



The Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology (Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, IPBS) is a joint research centre of the CNRS and the University of Toulouse. Occupying 12,000 m2 in the heart of the main campus of the University Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier, which offers a multidisciplinary education in the fields of Science, Health and Enginerering, the IPBS is part of one of the most important scientific research clusters in France.

IPBS is currently home to more than 250 scientific and administrative staff, who benefit greatly from a highly collaborative and innovative environment.


Currently, 17 research groups are organised into three research departments (Cancer Biology, Structural Biology and Biophysics, Tuberculosis and Infection Biology), and four in-house technological core facilities.


The IPBS is a world leader in the discovery, characterization and validation of novel biological targets in the fields of cancer and infectious diseases. These discoveries are made through the use of molecular and cellular biology approaches, together with in vivo experiments, including BSL-3-based studies of infectious diseases. IPBS conducts state-of-the-art research in structural biology, proteomics, biophysics, cancerology, immunology and microbiology. 


We, the Directors of the IPBS, are extremely proud of the achievements of the Institute to date. We hope to keep our institute deeply embedded in both national and international networks, with strong connections with industry and clinics in order to ensure the best environment for the further development of knowledge, technology and innovation. Our primary mission is to train and attract the next generation of researchers while also promoting science among the general public.

Toulouse and the Occitanie Region, a rich environment for scientists…

Situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of Southern France and close to the Pyrenees mountain range, Toulouse has long been a major crossroad in Europe. Attracting 15,000 newcomers every year, Toulouse, the capital of the Occitanie region has been growing fast both demographically and economically. It boasts a particularly rich and vibrant cultural and artistic heritage.

Within the leading French region for research and innovation - with around 30, 000 researchers and 3.7 % of its GDP spent on research (2014) – Toulouse has an international reputation for its cutting-edge aerospace, agronomic, health and economic research centers. Over 110, 000 students, among whom 11, 000 come from all over the world, pursue their studies in Toulouse, one of the most dynamic student cities in France.

The missions of the Scientific Advisory Board are to: 

  • advise the Director and Executive Board on the scientific policy of the Institute and public relations;
  • advise the Director and Executive Board on strategic aspects relating to the life cycle of research teams (creation, modification of research orientations, transition, etc.);
  • assess the scientific projects conducted by each research team at the Institute.


Frederick W. Alt


Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Mina J. Bissell


Lawrence Berkeley, National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA

Patrick Couvreur


Institut Galien Paris Sud (IGPS), Chatenay-Malabry, France

Sabine Ehrt


Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA

Jean-Pierre Gorvel

JP Gorvel 2-2018-L.jpg

Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Marseille, France

Kathryn Lilley


University of Cambridge, Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, UK

Dino Moras


Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Illkich, France

Eric Solary


Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France

David Russell


Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA





Prof. Jean Cros founded the IPBS in 1996, with the aim of applying the methods and concepts of modern cell, molecular and structural biology to the identification and validation of novel pharmacological targets in the fields of cancer and G-protein-coupled receptors. From the outset, the IPBS focused on fundamental research, with a view to applying its research findings to the development of innovative pharmacological approaches.


The opening of a new building in December 1997 made it possible to bring all the groups of the Institute together on the same site, at the heart of the campus of the Paul Sabatier University.

Under the leadership of Prof. François Amalric (1999-2008), the IPBS pursued the same objectives: the characterization and validation of new pharmacological targets by molecular and cell biology approaches, together with analysis of the structure/function relationships of biomolecules and their assemblies. During this period, new research groups and facilities in structural biology, biophysics and proteomics were established at the Institute. The proteomics facility of the IPBS is a reference structure in the field, and constitutes one of the three nodes of the French Proteomics Infrastructure (ProFI).


The growth and current organization of the Institute were shaped by a series of events beginning with the creation, in 2003, of the ‘Molecular Mechanisms of Mycobacterial Infections’ Department, and the recruitment of two young team leaders from the Pasteur Institute, Paris. This Department, which has recently been renamed ‘Tuberculosis and Infection Biology’, is a key player in research on tuberculosis and infectious diseases, at the national and international levels.

The ‘Cancer Biology’ Department was created in 2005, and five new teams were established during the 2005-2009 period, with group leaders from Rotterdam, Paris, Limoges and Toulouse. These new teams reinforced the two main axes of research covered by the Department: DNA transactions and repair, and the tumor microenvironment.

Finally, the ‘Structural Biology and Biophysics’ Department was created in 2009 with the objective of enhancing the reputation and strengths of the IPBS in structural biology (integrative biological NMR, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry and proteomics) and biophysics (structural and cellular biophysics). The teams of this department develop original concepts and methodologies, and work in close collaboration with the other departments on the characterization of novel pathways and targets in the fields of cancer and infections.


In January 2009, Dr. Jean-Philippe Girard succeeded Prof. François Amalric as Director of the Institute. Dr. Girard’s vision for the future is to enhance further the national and international standing of the IPBS, to stimulate the emergence of innovative projects to broaden the scope of the research performed at the IPBS, and, above all, to train and attract new group leaders to maintain the leadership of the IPBS in its various fields of research.