The 2010/12/01 at 11:00
Cancer, in all its forms and varieties, has become the top cause of death in France and all over the world. To fight against each strain of this disease, the Institut Curie draws together the largest French cancerology research centre and two state-of-the-art hospital establishments (Paris-Orsay and Saint-Cloud), as well as a transfer department, a bridge between research, industry and medicine. What makes it unique is its model placing the patient at the heart of a treatment-research continuum, a model followed since 1909, the year when the institute was founded by Marie Curie.
Since its inception, the Institut Curie has geared its activity in three directions: teaching, treatment and research, with an interdisciplinary emphasis and upstream patient-focused research. Recognised the world over for its scientific excellence, it has an original mode of functioning crossing over “from fundamental research to innovative treatment”, combining research and clinical activities.
In 2009, thanks to the support of donors and testators, the foundation collected 27.3 million euros. Over three-quarters of this sum were allocated to the Institut’s “social missions”: hospital activities, but above all research activities, and translational and clinical research.
Almost one-fifth of resources for research activities stems from donations and legacies. This is the case of 46% of funds gathered for clinical and translational research programmes. “The diversity of the Institut’s resources confers it with a specific financing structure. These resources come from the foundation’s own funds, but also other private and public financing. As in all hospital establishments, health insurance finances the cost of treatment. Other financing then helps increase resources. The Ministry of Research, universities, the Inserm and the CNRS subsidise research, which also benefits from the support of the public,” explains Paul Caroly, Secretary General of the Institut.
Generosity, a pillar of research
All donors wishing to support the Institut Curie in ways other than by donations can benefit from the advice of the foundation’s specialised experts. The numerous ways to contribute to the Institut include legacies and life insurance. “Dedicated staff in my team are ready to listen to donors and testators,” states Élisabeth Da Souza, Head of the collection division. “Speaking personally with the persons who support us helps us to better understand their expectations and requests. It is important for us to guide them as best as possible and then to respect their wishes, particularly as to how they wish sums to be used.”
The Institut Curie constructs with its donors and testators a trust relationship, crucial for establishing the loyal support necessary for the Institut’s actions to endure. While the generosity of individuals reaps significant financial resources, the role played by businesses is essential. The foundation has numerous business sponsors that have become true partners. Its ambition is to establish new win-win relationships so that cancer research may be accelerated and amplified thanks to supplementary means.
The financing of a PIC (incentive and cooperative programme) steered by the Institut Curie offers, for example, the possibility of making a commitment with the prospect of seeing a result in three years. “PICs are innovative research programmes carried out with controlled risk,” continues Élisabeth Da Souza. “Around ten are underway at the moment. SwissLife, one of our major sponsors, has financed, for example, a PIC on retinoblastoma, a rare cancer among children affecting the retina. They have thus been able to help research into cancer advance and to carry out screening initiatives amongst its members. They are currently financing a PIC on circulating cancerous cells. Another example: for Mutuelles Bleues which supports cancer research at the Institut without being allocated to a specific programme, two of our doctors took part in the elaboration of information distributed amongst the company’s insurance holders.”
Sponsorship is crucial
Businesses enable new projects to be initiated. The commitment of the lingerie design company Simone Pérèle has thus enabled the carrying out of a study on the intimacy of women treated for breast cancer, the training of doctors and paramedical staff on aspects of fertility and sexuality, and the setting up of discussion groups aiming to help patients live better with disease.
Such initiatives of the Institut cannot be implemented without the commitment of a business sponsor alongside it. “Sponsorship is crucial for the Institut Curie. By becoming sponsors, businesses can measure the impact of their investments on patients. The Institut, on the other hand, collaborates with real partners offering it extra resources to invest in the work of researchers and doctors,” observes Paul Caroly. In 1909, Marie Curie set up the Institut with the help of philanthropists such as the Lazard and Rothschild families; today, the contribution of donors, testators and sponsors remains indispensable for “getting a head start on cancer”.
PICS, programmes advancing research
Created in 1996, the Institut Curie’s “programmes incitatifs et cooperatives” (PICS or incentive and cooperative programmes) set out to place an emphasis on certain scientific objectives in cancerology in order to bring answers to concerns that only research can shed light on, to enable the transfer of findings in fundamental research to applied research in the medical field, and to bring together the efforts of researchers belonging to different disciplines by converging on a set scientific purpose. These transversal programmes, which may include the collaboration of exterior establishments (Institut Pasteur, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique) have a three-year lifespan. Examples include four PICS which commenced in 2010: “Cell division, polarity, growth and cancer”, “Cell models, clinical scenarios and high throughput screening”, “Retinoblastoma: transcriptome and therapeutic targets” and “Micrometastatic disease”.
The Institut Curie in a few figures
3,000 doctors, medical staff, researchers, technicians and administrative staff
10,900 patients treated every year (new and existing patients)
82 research teams
100,000 m2 in hospital space and research laboratories
570 international, scientific and medical publications every year
217 million euros in total budget for 2009, including 13% donated by the public
150,000 loyal donors
Source: Institut Curie – September 2010