• Aeronautics - Aerospace - Defence
  • Chemistry - Materials
  • Complex systems and software engineering
  • Digital
  • Energy, Ecology, Environment
  • Quality of life - Health - Food
  • Social - Societal - Solidarity Innovation

Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles (ICSN)

Research unit


With a staff of nearly 200 people, ICSN is the chemistry center of the CNRS campus of Gif-sur-Yvette. The Institute is located on the edge of the future Paris-Saclay campus, which will bring together nearly 10% of French research, and is an integral part of this new University. The ICSN develops activities at the chemistry-biology interface, with natural substances as object of study and main source of inspiration.
Organized in four departments, it has multidisciplinary expertise in organic exploratory chemistry, medicinal chemistry and natural substances, biological chemistry, and structural and analytical biology and chemistry. It relies on state-of-the-art equipment and researchers and engineers with unique know-how.
Internationally, it coordinates numerous national and European research projects. At the origin of many valued patents and startups, the ICSN regularly collaborates with small and large companies in the pharmaceutical and agro-food fields.



Innovation themes

Map and access

1, avenue de la Terrasse

Our research areas


- new organic synthesis methodologies
- total synthesis of complex molecules
- identification and characterization of new natural active substances
- improvement of the molecules' activity by medicinal chemistry
- development of new biological probes
- complex systems analytical characterization
- plane and 3D structure determination of small molecules and biomolecules (proteins, DNA / RNA)
- protein-ligand interaction by thermodynamic and structural approaches
- fundamental biological mechanisms characterization by molecular and cellular approaches
- chemical and biological processes modeling

Applications sectors

  • Health / wellness
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry / Plastics (Glue, Plastic, Rubber...)
  • Cosmetics

Total number of employees

Total number of employees : 155
Number of researchers : 92
Number of doctoral students : 39

Equipment(s) open to collaboration

Academic and industry:
- mass spectrometers:
+ http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article91
+ http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article729
- NMR spectrometers:
+ http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article571
+ http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article591
- HPLC chains: http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article729
- phenotypic-based screening (cellular/biochemical) and cell-free High Throughput Screening (HTS) on isolated targets: http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article1045
- chemical library: http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article471
- extract library: http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article586
- microanalysis: http://www.icsn.cnrs-gif.fr/spip.php?article728
- Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS)
- Thermal Shift Assay (DSF/TSA)
- quantitative PCR (qPCR)
- computing cluster


Our results

Valuation offer

- consulting
- provision of equipment, service provision, collaboration
- training in our areas of expertise: short sessions or laboratory reception of staff over long period, program à la carte or not, reception of doctoral scholarship CIFRE
- patent valuation

Projects examples

- new mechanism of strigolactones perception in plants
- new method of legionellosis detection
- development of mass spectrometry imaging techniques for the lipid analysis of tissues related to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, atherosclerosis, or Alzheimer's disease but also the analysis of heritage objects (painting).
- study of intrinsically disordered proteins or regions regulating intracellular signaling, viral replication or precursors of antimicrobial lasso peptide

Industrial and scientific relations

Scientific collaborations

The ICSN has a long tradition of academic collaborations at the national level with chemistry and biology laboratories of different universities and organizations (CNRS, CEA, INSERM, INRA, Institut Pasteur), LABEX (CHARMMMAT, CEBA, LERMIT) and schools (ISIPCA) but also in the hospital environment.
The laboratory regularly collaborates with European and international universities and research organizations and coordinates a number of European research projects.

Private collaborations

Many industrial contracts (provision of equipment, collaboration, service provision) are regularly implemented with large companies, SMEs or startups in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food and scientific instrumentation sectors.


Establishments of affiliation