The Institute of Movement Science - E.J. Marey (ISM)

The Institute of Movement Science (ISM) is a Mixed Research Unit (UMR) jointly run by the CNRS and the University of Aix-Marseille. Given that it covers a broad range of disciplines, the unit is recognized by four sections (7, 9, 25, and 27) of the National Committee for Scientific Research and four CNRS institutes: The Institute for Biological Sciences (INSB), which acts as the pilot institute; The Institute for Engineering and System Sciences (INSIS); the Institute for Human and Social Sciences (INSHS); and the Institute of Information Sciences and their Interactions (INS2I). ISM employs 160 people with 80 permanent staff, including around fifty CNRS researchers and University faculty members.

ISM is a multi-disciplinary laboratory focusing on the study of movement from different scientific angles. The laboratory’s main area of research involves the study and modelling of human movement. It adopts an inter-disciplinary approach encompassing neurophysiology, behavioural neuroscience, the biomechanics of movement and materials, biorobotics, and experimental and social psychology. 

The Institute has a broad range of motion capture systems for collecting kinematic data (Vicon, Optotrak, and Flock of Birds), kinetic data (AMTI force platform), and muscle activity data (EMG). The ISM possesses four state of the art technology platforms. The Mediterranean Virtual Reality Centre (CRVM) leads the field in the study of human movement using interactive immersive techniques, and is a reputed resource centre for scientific and industrial applications. The Aix-en-Provence Technology Platform promotes innovation and technology transfer in the field of (bio)mechanics. A flight arena has also been built for research in biorobotics, with the financial support of Robotex, the French national association of robotics platforms. The most recent platform and the most emblematic of the ISM is TechnoSport Aix-Marseille University. TechnoSport was established to combine high-level sports with scientific research to enhance athletes’ performance, but also to gain insights into more vulnerable populations (the obese, the elderly) with a view to improving health and quality of life.

ISM works with various clusters (poles de compétitivité). Its research is supported by long-term corporate partnerships through university chairs (with Oxylane in the sports equipment industry, with PSA in the automotive industry and with Eurocopter in the aerospace industry). Around 86% of its approximate €2 million annual budget (excluding staff salaries) comes from its own funding sources (i.e., contracts with ANR, FUI, FP7, and other institutions and organisations).

The unit is organized according to a matrix structure composed of 9 research teams and 2 transversal axes aiming to develop interdisciplinary research projects at the intersection of the teams.