The Etienne-Jules Marey Institute of Movement Sciences (ISM)

The « Etienne-Jules Marey Institute of Movement Sciences (ISM)» is a Joint Research Unit (UMR 7287), under the co-administration of Aix-Marseille University and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The laboratory comprises about 150 members (CNRS researchers, teacher-researchers, IT/BIATSS and PhD students).

The laboratory is located on several sites within the Marseille area including the University campus of Luminy, the Sainte-Marguerite Hospital, the Faculty of Medicine at the Timone Hospital, and the site of the Institute of Technology (IUT) of Aix-en-Provence.

Over the past ten years, the ISM has developed a recognized expertise in the multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of movement. We have become convinced that understanding movement cannot rely on the identification of standardized determinants alone, but also requires an integrative approach to shed light on their dynamic interactions. The “movement system” is a novel, central paradigm guiding the research at ISM along three essential themes:

  • structural elements underlying movement, drawing on biomechanics, material and movement science concepts
  • sensory-motor, cognitive and psychological processes and determinants
  • bio-inspired modelling applied to the design and control of moving systems

The laboratory is recognized at the level of material biomechanics and motion sciences (constitutive domain of team 1), psychology, neurophysiology and behavioral and cognitive neurosciences (constitutive domain of team 2) and bio-inspired robotics (constitutive domain of team 3).

Implicit within such a systems approach is the notion of value chain, starting from fundamental research (whether disciplinary, multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary) through to its applications in the fields of health, sport, education, robotics and transportation.  Equally important is our multi-scale view point which this approach allows - from micro to macro, from cell to tissue and whole body, from animal to human, from human to robot (and vice-versa). These two key points are  essential and constitute the major strength of the ISM research paradigm.

To support its projects, the ISM has acquired high-tech specialist equipment ranging from miniaturised embedded sensors and precision tools to customized all-inclusive experimental environments, all of which is supported by our dedicated team of engineers. In addition, the ISM has five technological platforms.

The Centre de Réalité Virtuelle de la Méditerranée (CRVM) is at the forefront of the study of human movement through interactive immersive techniques, and is a resource centre renowned for its scientific and industrial applications.

The Aix-en-Provence Technology Platform encourages innovation and technology transfer in the field of (bio)mechanics.

The Flight Arena was built for research in Biorobotics.

The MECABIO platform provides a service to the benefit of patients, by enabling mechanical characterization of biological and bio/materials.

The TechnoSport was created to associate high-level sport with scientific research with a view of both improving the performance of athletes, and also to improve health and quality of life of the most vulnerable populations (obese, elderly)

The ISM’s research is also supported by long-term corporate partnerships through university chairs (eg. with Decathlon in the sports equipment industry, with Stellantis in the automotive industry and with AG2R to design training situation tests to prevent the risk of falling and the decline of cognitive-motor functions).

The Institute of Movement Sciences occupies, by its size, by the range of its researchers' disciplines and by its unique research object, a very unique position on the national and international scale.