Get to know the CNRS

Pushing back the frontiers of science

Created in 1939, the French National Centre for Scientific Research is among the world’s leading research institutions. Its scientists explore the living world, matter, the Universe, and the functioning of human societies in order to meet the major challenges of today and tomorrow.

Internationally recognized for the excellence of its scientific research, the CNRS is a public multidisciplinary research institution placed under the authority of the French ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation. It is a reference in the world of research and development, as well as for the general public.

  • 3,4 billion budget
  • 32 000 individuals serving research
  • Over 1100 research laboratories in France and abroad

Within the CNRS Research Office (DGDS), the CNRS Institutes are the structures that implement the institution’s scientific policy, and oversee as well as coordinate the activities of laboratories.

The ten CNRS Institutes cover more or less extensive scientific fields, share projects, and promote cooperation between disciplines. They are directed by specialists in their domains who come from either the CNRS or the universities. 

  1. The Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB)’s mission is to develop and coordinate research in biology that seeks to understand the complexity of the living, from atoms to biomolecules, and from the cell up to complete organisms and populations.
  2. The Institute of Chemistry (INC)’s mission is to develop and coordinate research involving the development of new compounds, the understanding of chemical reactivity and prediction of the relations between the structure of molecules at the atomic level and the properties of these molecules.
  3. The Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE)’s mission is to develop and coordinate research in the fields of ecology and the environment, including biodiversity and human-environment interactions.
  4. The Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS)’s mission is to develop research on human beings, both as producers of language and knowledge, and as economic, social, and political actors.
  5. The Institute for Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS)’s mission is to ensure the continuum between basic research, engineering, and technology by promoting a “systems” approach through the development of the disciplines central to the Institute.
  6. The National Institute for Mathematical Sciences and their Interactions (INSMI)’s mission is to develop and coordinate research in different branches of mathematics, ranging from its basic aspects to its applications. It also helps structure the French mathematical community and integrate it into the international scientific landscape.
  7. The Institute of Physics (INP)’s mission is to develop and coordinate research in physics, with two primary objectives: to understand the world and to respond to the challenges facing society today.
  8. The Institute for Information Sciences and Technologies (INS2I) has a dual objective of both conducting and supporting research. It organizes and develops projects in computer science and digital technology. One of its primary goals is to make these two research areas a central part of multi- and interdisciplinary issues, along with information science, in particular through its partnership with the INSIS and the CNRS’s interdisciplinary tools.
  9. The National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3)’s mission is to develop and coordinate research in the field of nuclear physics, particle physics, and astroparticles.
  10. The National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy (INSU)’s mission is to create, develop, and coordinate national and international research in astronomy and Earth sciences, as well as ocean, atmospheric, and space sciences.

Learn more about the CNRS