"Our Microbial Lives: A Forum Against Eradication," May 27, 2021, Paris Institute for Advanced Study

Victoria Lee's picture
May 27, 2021
Subject Fields: 
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Environmental History / Studies


Our Microbial Lives: A Forum Against Eradication


Thursday, May 27, 2021, Paris Institute for Advanced Study (online)


Organized by Victoria Lee, assistant professor of history at Ohio University and 2020-2021 Fellow at the Paris Institute for Advanced Study, with the support of the Paris Institute for Advanced Study.





In what has been called our “biological age,” the sciences of the living reframe constantly what it means to be human. And within it, we stand on the edge of a transformation that some believe to be the most significant revolution in biology since evolution: the gradual discovery that we live inherently microbial lives. A growing body of evidence since the beginning of the twenty-first century reveals that the microbes who vastly outnumber our cells on earth not only coexist with us, but play fundamental roles in the origin, development, and survival of our human selves, as well as of all animals, plants, and the entire biosphere. It is a conceptual shift that promises to touch virtually every aspect of the way we live, from medicine to agriculture to biodiversity conservation. If there were ever a time to put to rest the myth that we may win total control of the microbial world with technologies of eradication alone, the time is now.


More than ever, the explosive problems of emerging antibiotic resistance, food and nutritional security, and human health that have accelerated with industrialization compel us to reconsider our approach to microbes. Such urgent developments along with the persistent emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases worldwide signal that, despite its utility in the past century and a half, the central model of warfare is by itself no longer sustainable. The challenge of how to lead our microbial lives in the face of unprecedented environmental change on a global scale demands a vantage toward microbes that is broader than war, and a mode of immunization other than eradication. At a crucial crossroads in which public debate may make all the difference, this forum invites experts in academia, industry, and more to gather together for a wide-ranging discussion of contemporary societal issues of microbial management that are essential to sustainable growth, and which cannot be addressed sufficiently by the tools of eradication.





09:30 - 09:40



09:40 - 10:00


Saadi Lahlou (Director, Institut d’études avancées de Paris)

Victoria Lee (Ohio University / Institut d’études avancées de Paris)


10:00 - 11:30


Knowledge of microbes and fermentation in sustainable development

Marc-André Selosse (Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle)

Elise Tancoigne (Université de Lausanne)

Anne Pitkowski (Groupe Bel)

Moderator: Nicolas Fortané (INRAE)


13:00 - 14:30


New perspectives on microbial diversity in food and health

Geneviève Teil (INRAE)

Jeanne Ropars (Université Paris-Saclay)

Sabine Boesen Mariani (Danone Nutricia Research)

Moderator: Elise Tancoigne (Université de Lausanne)


15:00 - 16:30


Microbial ecosystems in human and animal bodies

Geneviève Héry-Arnaud (CHRU de Brest and Université de Bretagne Occidentale)

Thierry Naas (Hôpital Bicêtre APHP and Université Paris-Saclay)

Nicolas Fortané (INRAE)

Moderator: Pierre-Olivier Méthot (Université Laval)


16:40 - 17:00             

Concluding remarks

Michel Morange (Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie and École normale supérieure)



This Forum is open to the public. Registration is free at the webpage accessible by the link below. A connection link will be sent to you the day before the event.


Further information at https://www.paris-iea.fr/en/events/nos-vies-microbiennes-un-forum-contre-l-eradication-2.


Contact Info: 

Solène de Bonis, Paris Institute for Advanced Study

Contact Email: